Student challenges new District drug policy

February 23, 2011

I received this email from a Washington High student who questions, as I have, the School District’s decision to drug test its best students rather than spend those dollars on the classrooms.

Hi Rick,
I am a senior at Washington High School and some recent decisions by our school board have raised my hand.

Our art teachers receive $800 annually, which comes out to be less than $1.50 per student and with the cost of art materials being relatively high, the teachers are finding themselves coming out of pocket for the student’s benefit. While these statistics came to my attention, the board decides to mandate drug tests for all Escambia middle and high school students participating in extracurriculars and those who park on campus.

I was shocked that our teachers cannot receive more funds for learning purposes but we have the money to make teens put their urine in a cup, a process I find to be a violation of privacy. Not only a privacy issue, these are matters that should be taken care of at home, and have no business being an in school issue.

The lack of funds for my art teachers (and other teachers) is ridiculous and will only get worse with Rick Scott pushing for education cuts. We have a surplus of administration employees that are making top dollar for doing nothing more than pushing paper for seven hours a day and facilities that are failing to be properly maintained.

Malcolm Thomas needs to sit down and think about what our school system here in Florida, more precisely Escambia, has come to. People are turning to alternative, private, and even boarding institutions so that there children do not have to enroll in this mediocre education system. I have also seen a number of families using business addresses to attend school in Santa Rosa County in the past few years.

I thought I would bring this to your attention as I am a student who has been, and is currently in this system but as a seventeen year old there are only so many people who will listen. I feel that if a respected person such as yourself were to bring these problems to our city’s attention, our teachers may receive what the deserve and changes will be set in motion. I thank you so much for your time and please feel free to contact me for any reason.

Have a great day.

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  • B February 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Whether it’s urine or hair testing, it’s still expensive. The figure I’ve heard is something along the lines of $300 per test. Catholic High is a private school and their drug tests are funded by tuition. They are not dependent on tax dollars like the public schools are.
    How old is the policy at Catholic? I knew several people who went there who would have failed any drug test, especially one done on hair.
    And drug testing giving students an “out”? If they want to say no, they’ll say no. They don’t need an out, they need willpower.

  • Childers Adams February 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

    From my understanding they are going to be urine tests. This article is more aimed at the appropriation of distict funds to teachers and facilities, the things that are really important. The district is wasting time and money with these tests and needs to review their priorities. We have a lack of money within the public schools as is seen with the shutting down of public schools in recent years (Woodham and Spencer
    Bibbs). You have the money to butt into the personal lives of students but not enough to provide them with proper learning materials and facilities? Education should never take a backseat but with the recent desiciona by our school board, it seems as if that is the case

  • A February 23, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Why does everyone think to be drug tested you will be forced to pee in a cup? Catholic High has mandatory drug testing at the beginning of the school year and random drug testing during the year. No student is forced to pee in a cup. They take a small hair sample from your head and they do it where it is not noticable. If you think about it, drug testing gives kids that are under peer pressure an “out.” They can say “no” to trying or doing drugs because they have to undergo mandatory drug testing at school.