Most parents understand that pop quizzes are a tradition at school, but Amber Burk isn’t happy about the test school administrators sprang on her daughter.
As KDVR reports, Amber’s 12-year-old daughter, Alyssa, attends Century Middle School in Thornton, Colorado. Recently, Alyssa was pulled out of class because school administrators had noticed something suspicious. As she told KDVR:
“They were saying, ‘You smell like marijuana,’ and then, ‘We’re just going to test you real quick and see if you’re smoking it.'”
Alyssa was given a drug test, which came back negative. However, several days went by before Amber learned about it — and only because Alyssa told her about it, not because the school informed her of the test.
“We were driving home and she told me they pulled her out of class because she smelled like marijuana,” Amber told KDVR. “Then she goes, ‘It’s OK, Mom. I passed my test.’ And I said, ‘What test?'”
When she learned that Alyssa had been given a drug test, Amber called her father (her daughter’s second legal guardian) to see if the school had tried to contact him about it. Neither Amber nor her father had received any notification from the school about the surprise drug test or its results.
District policy requires the school to attempt to contact a student’s parents before any sobriety test. However, a spokesperson for the district told KDVR that they don’t need permission from the parents in order to give a student a drug test:
Failure to grant permission to participate in or allow tests does not prohibit administrators from proceeding with the test when reasonable suspicion exists that a student is under the influence of a controlled substance.
Nonetheless, the district apologized for the lack of notification and promised to improve communication with parents in the future. Amber believes that parents might not be aware of the drug testing policy at their child’s school. She told KDVR:
“Not only did they do it without consent, but they didn’t call back and say, ‘Hey, by the way, this is what happened today at school.’ And I think they should have.”
Generally, the policy on student drug tests varies by school district. On the KDVR Facebook page, there was disagreement over whether a school should be able to test students for drugs without parental consent. Some saw it as a matter of safety or necessity.
Others were strongly opposed to the idea of any kind of drug test without parental permission.
A few pointed out issues with the use of the smell of drugs as a reason for a test.
Amber is satisfied with the school district’s apology. However, she remains upset over how the situation was handled. As she told KDVR:
“I just want people to know this is not OK. I’m not OK with it.”