As a leader for excellence in Catholic education, Chaminade Julienne continues to find ways to strengthen the Catholic educational experience for its students. Because our school is guided by a clear mission to educate the whole person, work for justice, and develop a family spirit, CJ instituted and implemented a student support program in 2010 in partnership with Boston College, called City Connects at CJ. This program helps us align our efforts to remove barriers that might impede a student from performing at his or her fullest potential. The program’s five areas of focus are: academics, social/emotional well-being, career, health, and family.
In recent years, research and national and local news headlines have illustrated the growing problem of substance abuse in our society. In the fall of 2016, a fact-finding committee comprised of teachers and counselors from our City Connects implementation team, health professionals, and administrators took a fresh look at how the issue of substance abuse is affecting CJ students. After reviewing research, data and speaking to other schools that have successfully adopted a drug awareness and testing program, the committee recommended the adoption of student health and wellness initiative that includes new efforts to educate students on the dangers of the use and abuse of alcohol and illegal substance, provide tools that may aid students facing temptation, and, when necessary, identify resources necessary for students who have made unhealthy choices. This more proactive approach will, starting with the 2018-2019 school year, include mandatory drug testing for every student.
We are implementing this program with voluntary testing during the 2017-2018 school year and mandatory testing the following year - not because we perceive that we have a widespread issue with substance abuse at CJ, but because we have come to understand more fully that CJ students, just like adolescents everywhere, are faced with difficult decisions about whether not to use and abuse drugs and alcohol. We feel called to develop and implement strategies that support them in becoming the young adults that God and their families want them to be.
Ultimately, we believe that this initiative will:
- Educate students for a lifelong understanding of the dangers of substance use,
- Empower students with tools that can assist them in moments of temptation,
- Provide students with four years of experience of establishing and reinforcing patterns of making health-minded decisions -- especially at a time when research shows that crucial brain development is still taking place through young adulthood,
- Cultivate students to become peer leaders, who, by example, are supportive to others in making health-minded decisions,
- Provide intervention strategies that address illegal substance use and abuse before what could become a disciplinary issue at school,
- Identify students who are struggling with abuse in their lives, and direct them to supportive resources in regaining healthy control of their lives, and
- Provide the expectation that CJ students will be drug-free, preparing them for the zero tolerance expectations they will find in workplaces, college athletics, and the military.
As CJ continues to develop this program through its full implementation in 2018-2019, questions and answers on this page will be updated and added.
- Why will CJ have a drug testing program?
- Why is the program voluntary in the 2017-2018 school year?
- Is there a problem with drug use at CJ?
- What is the timeline for implementation?
- How can I notify CJ that I would like my child drug tested in the voluntary year?
- What is the cost of the drug test for the voluntary year?
- Beyond the voluntary year, will parents have to pay an additional fee to cover the cost of this program?
- Is this an invasion of privacy?
- Shouldn't this be considered the parents’ job?
- How do we maintain confidentiality?
- Where do the records go?
- What will be tested?
- Will this drug testing program include alcohol?
- Can a student get a false positive from the test?
- How is the hair sample taken?
- What do you expect from parents?
Q: Why will CJ have a drug testing program?
A: CJ is educating students for a life-long understanding of the dangers of substance abuse and empowering students with tools to refuse the offer/pressures to use drugs and alcohol. The drug testing component offers students a tool they can use to refuse the offer of drugs, and it provides a way to identify and assist students who may be struggling.
Q: Why is the program voluntary in the 2017-2018 school year?
A: We know that this drug awareness and testing program represents a significant change in our approach. We expect there will be questions about our approach and we want to provide significant time that allows conversations between parents and school leaders and, most importantly, between parents and children. After this year of education, conversation, and transition, we expect that all of us in the school community will be ready for implementation of the mandatory testing protocols in 2018-2019.
Q: Is there a problem with drug use at CJ?
A: Our research does not indicate that we have a widespread problem with drug use at CJ. However, we know that CJ students, just like adolescents everywhere, are faced with difficult decisions about whether to use and abuse drugs and alcohol. Our program is not a response to substance abuse at CJ, but a preventive and educational initiative that will allow us to better serve our students, their families, and our community.
Q: What is the timeline for implementation?
A: During the fall of the 2017-2018 school year, parents or guardians will have the opportunity to request a voluntary drug test for their son or daughter. We will use their experience to inform our policies and procedures for the mandatory testing protocols we will put in place for all students during the 2018-2019 school year.
Q: How can I notify CJ that I would like my child drug tested in the voluntary year?
A: Parents will receive a letter in the mail at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year and can return the completed form if they would like their child to participate.
Q: What is the cost of the drug test for the voluntary year?
A: This answer will be updated when a specific drug testing provider is chosen, however, it is expected to cost between $30-$50 per test.
Q: Beyond the voluntary year, will parents have to pay an additional fee to cover the cost of this program?
A: This answer will be updated when a specific drug testing provider is chosen.
Q: Is this an invasion of privacy?
A: Chaminade Julienne is a private, Catholic school, and as such, parents choose to enroll their children and agree to the provisions of the student handbook, some which might not be permitted in public schools subject to different legal standards. While we strive to maintain student privacy as much as possible, adolescent substance abuse represents a serious danger to a young person’s ability to grow as a child of God. Our mission calls us to prepare young people to become lifelong learners, contributing members of society, and people of compassion, integrity, and service. Those struggling with substance use and abuse cannot reach their fullest potential and become the people God is calling them to be.
Q: Shouldn't this be considered the parents’ job?
A: We believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, and parents have invited us to partner with them in their goal of preparing their children for college and life. We see this program as a tool for parents that supports our common goals and the education of the whole person.
Q: How do we maintain confidentiality?
A: During the voluntary period of the 2017-2018 school year, all drug testing results will be sent directly to the parents who choose to have their child tested. Confidentiality measures are still being developed for the mandatory drug testing program to begin in the fall of 2018.
Q: Where do the records go?
A: During the voluntary period of the 2017-2018 school year, all drug testing results/records will be sent directly to the parents who choose to have their child tested. No school employees will receive testing results in the 2017-2018 school year. Parents who wish to share testing information with the school may do so under the guideline laid out on page 24 (substance abuse policy) of the CJ Student Handbook. Decisions about a drug testing company for 2018-2019 will determine how records are received and distributed to select school employees, with student privacy of utmost importance.
Q: What will be tested?
A: A hair sample will be used, which can detect drug use for up to 90 days. Providers will test for a range of illegal substances including cocaine, marijuana, opiates (including heroin, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone), methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA) and phencyclidine (PCP). This answer will be updated when a specific drug testing provider is chosen.
Q: Will this drug testing program include alcohol?
A: For the voluntary year, alcohol testing can be added by parents for an additional fee. As testing technologies improve in the future, however, we may include an alcohol test component in future mandatory tests.
Q: Can a student get a false positive from the test?
A: No, the testing process of leading drug companies have passed all tests for avoiding false positives in their hair sample drug tests.
Q: How is the hair sample taken?
A: This answer will be updated when a specific drug testing provider is chosen.
Q: What do you expect from parents?
A: CJ expects that parents will be supportive in the school's efforts to maintain a safe and healthy school community. We ask that parents do not ignore potential warning signs from students as we partner in our mission to create faith-filled adults. Finally, we expect that parents will maintain open lines of communication with the school in all efforts to keep students safe and healthy.
Updated July 17, 2017