Random drug testing will not be coming to Norwalk schools.
The measure went down at Tuesday evening's board meeting 4 to 1.
Instead, the board will be pursuing an educational strategy to combat the drug problem.
Board member John Lendrum said he was ready to offer a resolution right then and there instructing the district to: draw up a coherent drug curriculum; provide a quarterly educational program for parents; work on partnering with the community; and provide drug tests at little or no cost to parents on short notice.
Superintendent Wayne Babcanec said the school already is working on some of those items and a new drug program will be started at the high school in the fall. The board decided to look at a more specific directive at the next meeting.
The drug testing debate began when Stephanie Broz, board member Janet Broz's stepdaughter, asked the board to start drug testing its students. Such a program would have helped her, she said. A graduate of Norwalk High and former student athlete, she had just returned from rehab when she addressed the board for the first time in October.
After the program was defeated, Stephanie Broz said that while she still has faith in random testing, she was glad to hear that the board would be going forward with other programs to address the problem.
"Discussions and research concerning random drug testing have clearly revealed to the board where we have lacked in dealing with this problem. I believe we now have a complete awareness and will make a concerted effort at finding solutions to help our young people," board member Janet Broz said before the vote.
Comments of other board members, before and after the remarks made it clear that the rest of the board felt the solutions should be educational only.
Scott Truxell said the vast majority of parents he had spoken to were against the testing program. There is no conclusive evidence that drug testing works, he said, and he saw the problem as one that is the responsibility of parents. If he ever suspects his daughter is using drugs, he said, "she'll be taken by us for immediate testing."