All 1,000 boys in a Chicago Catholic high school will face drug screens next fall, the Chicago Tribune reports. St. Patrick High School said yesterday that it would be the first Chicago-area high school to require drug testing of all students.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld drug testing in public schools, but only for athletes and others in extracurricular activities. Parochial schools are not bound by those rulings.
In Chicago, families will pay $60 for the test, which will use hair samples collected by counselors to screen for illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy, but not steroids or alcohol.
Senior Steven Rohlf said that while he had no problems with the program, many students were “very upset. The majority are against it. A lot of people have a privacy problem.”
Across the country, the usefulness of drug-testing is debated. A study this year by University of Michigan researchers showed no significant difference in drug use between schools testing for drugs and those that don’t.
“Our only objective is to help students deal with societal pressures,” said Brother Konrad Diebold, president of St. Patrick, at 5900 W. Belmont Ave. “We do know that kids are under pressure, and this gives them a chance to say `no,’ and say no with integrity.” The St. Patrick program is modeled after drug testing in place for several years at Catholic high schools in Memphis and New Orleans, where opposition has been light and success is clear, say administrators.