ACLU argued against mandatory testing of students at town forum

The Williamsburg-James City County School Board has apparently delayed any action to institute a mandatory drug testing policy, at least for now. The decision, while not yet official, comes in the wake of a town meeting held on May 25 at the Williamsburg Regional Library during which an audience of nearly 200 citizens listened to the pros and cons of student drug testing from a panel of experts.
Panelists at the forum included drug testing opponent Kent Willis, executive director of Virginia's ACLU, advocate DeForest Rathbone, chairman of the National Institute of Citizen Anti-Drug Policy, and neutral commentary from Richard Caster, deputy superintendent of schools in Dublin, Ohio. Caster's school system implemented drug testing in 2000, but abandoned it a year later.
The Williamsburg-James City County School Board School Board had agreed to wait until after the forum to decide whether or not to proceed with mandatory drug testing, intending to put the issue to a vote at its next meeting, on June 7. School board members have now decided to wait until after a new superintendent takes office later this summer, and even then don’t expect the issue to resurface until sometime next year.
“We are pleased the school board has decided not to go forward with mandatory student drug testing at this time, “ said Willis. “My sense from talking directly to school board members is that in the wake of the town meeting there is a lot of skepticism about mandatory drug testing programs. They all understand now that drug testing infringes on student privacy and is not likely to have any real effect on the drug problems facing schools.”
“Despite all the rhetoric, there are several things that almost all the experts agrees on,” added Willis. “First, there is no study concluding that drug testing programs have any effect on overall drugs use by students. Second, the programs are very expensive. Third, the only drug programs that seem to work rely on a combination of education, parental involvement, and rehabilitation programs, not mandatory drug testing.”
“Those who try to sell mandatory drug testing as a ‘magic bullet,’ a term used frequently by my opponent in last night’s forum, have no basis for saying that whatsoever. School board members seemed to understand that.”

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022