Dear Editor,

The Middletown School District has had a drug testing policy since 2006, which requires all high school students participating in extracurricular activities and/or with a parking space at school to face mandatory drug tests.

Even though this policy may have been enacted with good intentions, there are a number of serious flaws in it that must be addressed.

1) Students who are subject to random drug testing may opt to use dangerous hard drugs such as heroin (which is highly addictive and currently the most popular illegal drug in New Jersey) instead of the soft drug cannabis, which is non-addictive and has never resulted in a single death. The reason for this would be the fact that while cannabis can show up in a urine test for 30 days or more, heroin as well as other opiates such as OxyContin usually become undetectable within a few days.

2) Drug addiction is a medical issue and therefore it is inappropriate to use school disciplinary procedures against students found to be suffering from a medical condition. While the handbook states that they do not impose disciplinary measures against students who fail to pass such tests it later reads, "students will be removed from co-curricular activities, sports, and parking privileges as set forth in Board Policy." Additionally, because drug addiction is a medical problem, the results of any such test are a personal medical record that need to be kept private in compliance with HIPPA and limited to licensed medical professionals consented to by the student and their parent(s)/guardian(s).

3) Research shows that students who are involved with sports and other extracurricular activities are less likely to use drugs and are more likely to disapprove of drug usage. Therefore, it seems counterproductive to remove students experimenting with drugs from a peer group that would discourage them from using drugs.

While there are clear questions over the scope of government intrusion and parental rights when your local public school is running what amount to mandatory medical tests on students, it would be highly irresponsible for the Middletown Board of Education to fail to at minimum correct the flaws noted above prior to the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Eric Hafner

Red Bank, NJ