Rockhurst High School plans random drug testing for all students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City private high school is planning to have mandatory random drug and alcohol testing of all students starting next school year.

Rockhurst High School released the new policy Thursday morning.

"As professional educators, we believe that adolescents do not have a right to engage in drug and/or alcohol use, nor do they need to ‘learn' how to drink," Principal Greg Harkness said in a statement. "The use of drugs and alcohol is illegal and has a documented negative impact on developmental and academic progress."

The school's Board of Trustees made the decision after two years of discussion about teenage drug and alcohol use. The school's statement said a survey of students last year showed a culture of permissiveness and misinformation about drug and alcohol abuse.

"For centuries, Jesuit education has stood against the prevailing culture when that culture seeks to undermine the inherent value of God's creation," Harkness said. "As a Jesuit institution, it is incumbent upon Rockhurst High School to take a stand against trends that we believe are contrary to the formation of the young men in our care. Our ultimate goal is a student body that is free of drugs and alcohol."

The first tests will happen during opening convocations in August 2013. School officials will use Psychmedics to test hair samples for evidence of drug use or binge drinking. Rockhurst plans to use a health and wellness program for students who test positive.

First offenses will not result in disciplinary action, according to school officials. The students and their families will receive assistance from counselors if they test positive. On a second positive test, students will be sent to the Dean of Students for possible disciplinary action.

"We assure our community that this decision is not based on an increase in substance abuse or any specific event. Rather, we have consulted other Catholic and Jesuit schools across the country that employ this type of program and believe it fits well in our health and wellness model for students," Harkness said. "Jesuit education requires us to understand the unique circumstances of students at a given time and apply our centuries-old values to the uniqueness of our own age."

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