A suburban high school is set to test students’ hair as part of a new “mandatory” drug policy for the upcoming school year.
Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein recently announced that hair testing will begin in August 2019 and continue throughout the school year for all students enrolled. The policy aims to “give young men and women an extra incentive to say ‘no’ to drugs and alcohol,” the school said in a release Monday.
According to the policy, a batch of students will be tested at random twice per month. If a student tests positive, he or she will meet with Principal Jason Huther and be referred to a certified counselor. If that student fails a drug test three times, they could be recommended for dismissal.
"This program really is designed to get kids to say no," Huther said. "For those who haven’t said no it will give them a reason to."
Huther said the policy is designed as “therapeutic in nature, not punitive,” and will “help students make health choices when faced with high-pressure situations.”
“Protecting students from substances that negatively impact brain development and decision-making was a prime motivator for the new policy,” he said in a statement.
School officials said the data will be kept private, but the American Civil Liberties Union is concerned, calling the new policy "counterproductive."
"What you've really done is singled a student out in a large school," said Ed Yohnka with the ACLU of Illinois.
In addition to the drug-testing policy, the school also plans to add special awareness programs on drug and alcohol abuse, vaping, healthy eating habits, stress and time management and physical care, officials said.
“Education in leading a healthy lifestyle is important when considering all the pressures our students face," President Brad Bonham said in a statement. "At Carmel Catholic, we don’t simply educate in academics. Education in faith, character, and healthy life habits is equally important.”