Fowler Unified School District wants to help students remain drug-free during their crucial years of learning and social development. The VCDTP encourages parents and students to enter into a meaningful dialogue about drug use. It also provides students who want to remain drug free with an avenue to resist peer pressure to participate in drugs.
Testing is conducted by an outside medical group.
Over the last five school years, over half of our students recommended for expulsion were referred for drug related offenses. We recognize the challenge and as a result have provided a program that will help our students deal with peer pressure and maintain a drug free life style. Our VCDTP was passed by the Board with the intent of opening a dialogue between parents and students that will hopefully lead to participation in this program. We feel this program has a number of advantages that are discussed below.
An important aspect of the VCDTP is that it encourages parents and students to engage in a meaningful conversation about drug use.
It provides an excuse and reinforcement to students to resist peer pressure to use drugs simply because "I can’t take the risk; my parents signed me up for the voluntary drug testing program."
Voluntary drug testing is an aid for prevention. It enables parents to intervene early and seek assistance if their child tests positive.
The VCDTP will hopefully keep students focused on learning. Drug use by students has a detrimental effect on achievement, social development, and family and school relationships, essentially all aspects of a student’s life.
All students benefit from a drug-free school environment. Besides providing added protection for your own child, participation by your child also encourages other parents and students to participate in the program which has the potential for creating an environment that is safe and drug free for all students.
Tests are conducted by an independent medical laboratory. Results are reported directly to and only to the parent or guardian. Results are strictly confidential. There is neither school punishment nor involvement of law enforcement authorities through the VCDTP.
The harm of alcohol and tobacco is generally well known. More information is now available on the harmful effects of marijuana, the illicit drug of choice by youth. The marijuana available today is much stronger than what was available in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Research has now established that marijuana is addictive. Sixty percent of teens admitted to drug treatment cite marijuana as their primary substance of abuse. Research also shows that marijuana use is three times more likely to lead to dependence among adolescents than adults. Indications are that the earlier students start using marijuana, the more likely they are to become dependent on this or other illicit drugs later in life.
(Source: Fact Sheet on Marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse-National Institutes of Health)
Research has shown that marijuana use has many serious harmful effects.
Short term or acute effects of marijuana include impairments in learning and memory, perception, and judgment. Marijuana can cause difficulty speaking, listening effectively, thinking, retaining knowledge, problem solving and forming concepts. It can interfere with school performance.
Marijuana impairs complex motor skills and judgment of speed and time. Marijuana use is often associated with automobile accidents and adversely affects performance of other complex tasks.
Marijuana use is characterized by decreased drive and ambition, shortened attention span, poor judgment, high distractibility, impaired communication skills and diminished effectiveness in interpersonal situations.
Heavy chronic use of marijuana, with or without other illicit drugs, is correlated with higher levels of truancy, fighting, delinquency, arrests, and health problems in adolescents.
Physiological effects of marijuana include an alteration of heart rate. In some individuals, use of marijuana may result in intense anxiety, panic attacks or paranoia.
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same carcinogens and toxic particulates as tobacco, except in higher concentrations.
Daily use of 1 to 3 marijuana cigarettes appears to produce the same lung diseases (bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma) and potential cancer risks as smoking five times as many cigarettes.
Additional sources for marijuana information:
Information source for other drugs:
OTHER PREVENTION STEPS for parents are important. Ten Steps for Prevention of Drug Use by Your Children from the book titled, The Selfish Brain: Learning from Addiction by Robert L. DuPont, M.D., a psychiatrist and the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are listed below.
Additional suggestions for guidelines can be found in this comprehensive book, which covers subjects from prevention to treatment
This program is provided at no cost to the parents. It is a service that the District is providing to insure that as many students as possible remain drug free.
The medical vendor currently being used by the district is Central Drug System (CDS). CDS’s home office is in Fountain Valley, California.
Standard testing procedures begin with a random selection of names of students who are enrolled in the program for that school year. The selected students are accompanied to a designated bathroom by an adult and requested to provide a urine sample in a provided container.
Privacy of the student is respected. If the student refuses to take the test, the parent is notified. There is no school sanction.
Results will only be reported to the parent or legal guardian of the student. Negative results will be sent via mail. CDS’s in-house physician will inform the parent or guardian via telephone of positive, adulterated, substituted, invalid results or refusals. This information can be mailed if requested. CDS’s in-house physician will offer a referral to an out-patient substance abuse professional if requested by the parents or guardian of the student. The cost of these out-patient services will be the responsibility of the parent or guardian.
Specimens are screened for the following drugs:
Enrollment packets will be distributed to students during pre-registration in August of every school year. Registration is not complete until the enrollment form has been returned with parent and student signatures indicating their participation or non-participation in the program. Once enrolled, students remain in the program until graduation unless parents submit a written withdrawal. Students who are not enrolled are annually offered the opportunity to enroll.
Currently, Fowler Unified School District provides a number of services for students in the area of tobacco and drug abuse. These services include a Student Assistance Counselor, TUPE (Tobacco Use Prevention Education) Grant, Red Ribbon Week activities, tobacco cessation classes, drug detection canines, and mandated counseling for student drug offenders.
Since the program was implemented in September 2005, the number of positive test results have been very limited, according to annual statistics provided by CDS.
Eric Cederquist, Superintendent
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