SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A private Catholic high school is Santa Fe is considering random drug testing for its students as a way to deter drug use.
A proposal to implement the testing in the fall was recently emailed to parents of St. Michael’s High School students by Principal Sam Govea.
Hair samples will be taken by either Govea or one of his vice principals, all of whom will be trained by the Psychemedics Corporation, based in Culver City, Calif.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to help our kids,” Govea told the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/Am7yk3) on Friday. “I think this is a great thing, giving our kids another reason to say no. Drugs are everywhere — I don’t care what school you are at. We can’t stick our head in the sand about it; we have to be proactive.”
The school serves about 700 students in grades 7 through 12.
Govea said many parents have told him they are behind the decision.
One is Dawn Wink. “Anything that detracts from a sense of safety takes away from learning, so I support it,” she said. “There’s no place for drugs on a school campus. Students’ individual rights in the classroom end when they begin infringing on other students’ rights — and drugs do that.”
But not everyone is pleased.
St. Michael’s parent Ronnie Ortiz, referring to the school’s Lasallian tradition of displaying respect, servicing the poor and accepting all faiths, said, “You treat people with love, you don’t look at them as suspects. This is not what Jean-Baptiste de la Salle (founder of the Christian Brothers) intended or how he wanted us to treat each other.”
She said her son told her he doesn’t have a problem with the plan, however.
Another St. Michael’s mother, Carol Campbell, said, “I think that St. Mike’s should stick to teaching academics and let us parents do the parenting.”
According to the letter sent to parents, the school will choose students at random via a student lottery using their ID numbers. Govea said Friday that if a student tests positive, he or she will be given 90 days to straighten up before taking a second test. If that test comes up positive, he said, “Then they made their decision to leave St. Mike’s.”
Govea said that the school expects to test 10 to 15 percent of its student body annually.
St. Michael’s was founded as a boys school in 1859 at the behest of New Mexico Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy and opened under the direction of four French Christian Brothers. The facility became co-educational in the mid-1960s.