Critics, Costs May Stall Phoenix School Drug Tests

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Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s plans to expand drug testing in schools could stall, reports the Arizona Republic. Some parents and educators say it violates students’ rights, and testing could prove too expensive. White House drug czar John Walters called for stronger antidrug measures in Phoenix last week during a “25 Cities Initiative” tour. Gordon and Maricopa County prosecutor Rick Romley said they want drug-prevention efforts to focus on youths, including expanding random drug testing in schools. Testing would be voluntary, and only parents, not law-enforcement officials, would be notified should students test positive for drugs. President Bush is giving $25 million in grants to school districts for random testing.

Gordon said that, “We need to identify these kids early before they get sucked in and addicted, and we need to go beyond athletes because not all kids are involved in sports.” The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that student-athletes and those in extracurricular clubs can be tested for drugs. But only a handful of Arizona school districts test. Students are generally placed in testing pools and randomly selected throughout the school year. It costs about $25 for urine drug tests that check for alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs. Steroids tests cost an additional $50 or more. Paradise Valley, which annually tests between 400 to 500 high school students, spends about $21,000.


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