There were hints of trouble, but the father missed them. The school superintendent of Salem, Ma., Herbert Levine — guardian of 5,000 students, holder of a doctorate in education, overseer of students for 36 years — overlooked the drug addiction of the teenager living in his own house, the Boston Globe reports. Levine still sounds surprised, says the Globe, seven months after he discovered his son, Joel, could not get through most days without inhaling the prescription painkiller OxyContin.
Now Levine wants Salem schools to test students randomly for drug use. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has threatened to sue that happens. In classrooms and in school hallways, students are debating the merits of drug testing. Denise Royal, the mother of a Salem High student, said drug testing could be comforting to parents. “I’d rather know than not know,” she said. The ACLU believes Salem High would be the first school in the state to require random tests. Said Levine: “It struck me, almost like an epiphany but over a period of time, that we’re just not doing enough.”