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Frank Kopczynski featured in the St. Pete Times

St. Pete Times Online Tampa Bay
Letters to the Editor
Published April 19, 2005

What purpose would drug testing serve?

Re: County studying drug tests in schools, April 15 Times.

Based upon a 2002 and 2004 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey, the School Board of Hernando County is considering random drug testing of students at a cost of about $80,000. Of course, no such program would be complete without a list of proposed penalties, i.e., stripping students of driving privileges to school and being banned from all extracurricular activities, as well as the occasional 10-day suspensions. They can, however, receive milder penalties if they agree to enroll in a drug awareness program.

Of course, any student refusing to be tested will be considered guilty. What a great civics lesson!

But other than the possibility of embroiling the School Board in a spate of potential lawsuits, what can be gained here? Well, for starters, doing something about the reasons for such high drug and alcohol use would be great.

Also, forget about suspensions. Ten days of falling behind in schoolwork and leaving the student with nothing to do is a foolhardy approach.

Denying extracurricular activities seems to be counterproductive, as well. Why? Let’s say we have a student who has the choice of indulging in self-destructive behavior, like binge drinking, or keeping busy doing something healthy, like participating in sports. As a parent, which would you prefer?

Finally, if we want to teach our children how serious we are about drugs and alcohol, let’s start by getting our educators and elected officials to agree to random drug and alcohol testing first.

If they are found to be positive for drug or alcohol use, they must resign immediately with loss of all accrued benefits. If they refuse to take the test, there will be a presumption of guilt and they will be fired immediately and reported to law enforcement.

There is nothing like leading by example, so don’t let them weasel out of it. What’s good for our children should be good for the adults. Or, in this case, what’s a bad idea for adults is even worse for our children.

— Frank Kopczynski, Clearwater
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