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Drug testing draws 300

Program turns up 'very small' sample of positives

Posted: June 14, 2009 10:54 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
About 300 students have signed up for the Hart district's voluntary random drug testing program since it was started three months ago. The district plans to expand the program for the 2009-10 school year.

Hart board members approved the district-wide drug testing program, known as Comprehensive Alcohol and Drug Reduction and Education (CADRE), in February. A three-month trial period soon started as Hart district officials began promoting the program to parent and student groups.

"It had a really good response," said Darryl Adams, director of human resources for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

The program runs off of a $216,000 Department of Education grant for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12 school years.

Since the program is voluntary, students who take part must sign a permission slip with their parents. In the three months before the 2008-09 school year ended, 150 students were randomly selected to undergo drug testing by a third-party drug-testing company, Adams said.

About 10 of the tested students underwent secondary tests, Adams said.

Adams called the results a "very small amount of positive tests," he said.

Along with the drug testing, the program includes an education component in which parents are invited to presentations about drug and alcohol use in the Santa Clarita Valley. The meetings, led by former and current narcotics officers, were well-attended, Adams said.

"Parents are asking for more of it," he said.

To meet the needs of parents, the district plans to offer a presentation every six weeks once the 2009-10 school year begins, he said.

"If we can save one life, then it's worth it," he said.

A new component of the program will involve students forming coalitions on their campuses to raise awareness about the program and to encourage classmates to join.

"We hope to build the program to over 1,000 or more (participants) by the end of next year," Adams said.

Hart district parent Heidi Espinosa said she found one of the drug-information sessions to be informative.

"It gave you a lot of information as to how kids get drugs on the Internet and the different types of drugs kids are taking these days," she said.

Espinosa's son, a junior at Hart High School, has been attending Action Family Counseling meetings.

Action Family Counseling is a locally-based organization that provides counseling and services to families and teenagers facing substance abuse.

She anticipates that her son will join the voluntary random drug testing program in the fall, she said.

She remains grateful for the Hart district's efforts to keep kids off drugs.

"I think it's great. I feel that a lot of parents don't realize how many drugs are out here in the valley," she said.

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