I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ACLU "Concerned" About District's Proposed Drug Testing Plan

ACLU Attorney Benjamin Stevenson sent the below email to our Board attorney yesterday, voicing his "concern" about our proposed student drug testing policy.  I'm sure he was a bit perturbed when a parent asked him why the ACLU was "okay" with our proposal....I guess he's not okay with it.  In his email he requests that people be apprised on his position, so here is the email....

>>> Benjamin Stevenson 1/19/2011 10:36 AM >>>


An Escambia parent recently relayed to us that the school district informed him that the ACLU does not have an issue with the Escambia School Board’s proposed extensive drug testing policy. This is inaccurate; we have significant concerns about the proposed policy.

Moreover, I am unsure what would lead the school district to believe we were fine with the proposed policy. When we first met with you on Dec. 17 we expressed concerns, but postponed making any final conclusions without the benefit of case law you indicated that supported the board’s proposal. After you sent us the case law last week (after a couple of requests), we have continued to make inquires about the contours of the policies – again signaling that we may have problems with it. Also, I was quoted in the Pensacola News Journal on Jan. 8 expressing concerns about the policy.

I request that you apprise the School Board and other relevant district employees of our position so that they do not misrepresent it to the public.

Benjamin James Stevenson
Staff Attorney

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida—Northwest Region

Post Office Box 12723
Pensacola, FL 32591-2723

Direct 786.363.2738
Office 850.429.9128
Fax 786.363.1985

Because Freedom Can't Protect Itself


Anonymous said...

Who pays for the district approved drug assessment and rehab program after positive test result? the policy states parents pay the cost of subsequent tests. Is this the case for the rehab too? And which programs locally are 'district approved'?
p.s. "apprised"... not "appraised" as you use it in your ACLU post.

Jeff Bergosh said...


The district has set aside $75K for the overall Comprehensive Drug plan--which includes the drug-dog sweeps, the awareness campaigns, and the testing. It is a small price to pay to keep kids on the right track and to fight back against garbage the kids are constantly exposed to, such as MTV's "SKINS". Another thing to consider is that by identifying and helping kids who may have a problem, perhaps we can identify the next Jared Loughner before he goes off--what I've read about Loughner is that he was a huge dope-head and nobody helped him. It's all about student safety!

Jeff Bergosh said...

Also, Anonymous, check out this story from yesterday's(of all places) Huffington Post--it describes in detail how Loughner's use of Marijuana in H.S. and beyond could have contributed to his mental defectiveness. Not that Huffington Post is the bastion of excellent news stories, but this article was well written.

ACLU types not discussing this much, though.

from the article:

"But I haven't seen press reports or talking heads discuss their concern about how easy it has been for this mentally ill young man to get marijuana. And there has been no mention of the potential of marijuana to spark latent psychosis and exacerbate schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

In 2007, the British Medical Journal Lancet concluded that an exhaustive review of cannabis use and mental health "leads us now to conclude that cannabis use could increase the risk of psychotic illness." Since then, there has been more research on the relationship of marijuana use and psychosis."

I also have read that Eric Harris, one of the columbine Massacre participants, was abusing prescription drugs before he went off.

Student Safety-that's what this is all about.....