Random drug tests nothing new to southern IL high schools - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Random drug tests nothing new to southern IL high schools

BENTON, IL (KFVS) - As schools across the country attempt to crack down on the growing drug problem among American teens, a central Illinois high school recently changed its policy to allow random drug tests for most of its students, but policies like that have existed in southern Illinois for nearly a decade.

The Benton Consolidated High School in Benton, Illinois is one of several Heartland high schools that require its students to undergo random drug tests, according to Principal Mark Miller.

“We randomly test all of our kids," Miller said. “Our parents are by and large most supportive.”

Miller, an educator with more than 20 years experience, said the policy is in place to hold students accountable and to keep them safe.

Students that are randomly selected for drug tests are sent to Franklin County Hospital for a urine test. The program does not come at an additional cost for parents.

Students that test positive for drugs at BCHS are not allowed to participate in competition extracurricular activities like band, drama, and athletics.

“I think that our parents and our kids understand that extracurricular are just that. They're extras," Miller said. “It really does give them a reason and a really good excuse to fight off that peer pressure.”

If a student test positive, parents are notified and the school has several resources to get the student help including an on campus counselor.

"We're not foolish enough to believe that we don't have a problem in this school and in our communities," Miller said. "The school wants to stand ready to do everything they can to not only have kids that represent our school, represent our community well.”

While parents like Stephanie Webb of Marion, Ill. agree with the idea of keeping drugs out of schools, she doesn't agree with schools requiring the tests.

“I honestly think it's an invasion of privacy," Webb said. “But that should be the parents job not the school. The parent should be the one to be able to come in and say ‘hey, I want you to do a drug test.'”

“I would fight it. I'd tell them no, it's an invasion of privacy. If it's going to be that way I'll home school my kid," Webb said.

But David Call, of Crab Orchard, said schools should hold students accountable.

“Sometimes people do need to step in because sometimes parents just won't make the hard call and they don't want to know the truth," Call said.

Miller said the program has has been at BCHS for nearly a decade.

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