Though the Lacey Township Board of Education program will be implemented purely on a "voluntary" basis for seventh and eighth graders who participate in athletic programs and extracurricular activities — and only then with parental consent — the invasiveness of the plan should sound a number of alarm bells.
"I'm a supporter for any intervention to give another reason for kids to say 'no' and that can start at any age, especially with our young teens," district superintendent Craig Wigley told NJ Advance Media following the school board's vote on August 15.
Students will be offered the option to participate in the random drug-testing program, but the parents of those who do must sign a 12-month consent form.
Worse, the school plans to hand down stiff penalties to students who test positive — a first violation would bar a student from participation in sports and extracurriculars for 10 days, and on a second offense, the suspension would last 45 days. A third strike, unsurprisingly, bars the 'offending' student from athletics and extracurriculars permanently.
Students who sign up for the program but refuse to take a drug test when selected would face the same harsh penalties as those who test positive for drugs — meaning voluntary participants must adhere to the plan, or else.
"It's really another tool for schools and families to keep their kids safe," Wigley continued. "I think it's a wonderful addition and it's good to be in the forefront of that. We're being proactive."