BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Parents of students enrolled in grades 6 to 12, either at Ridge High School or the William Annin Middle School, are asked to select by Wednesday, March 25, whether they wish to enroll their children in a voluntary random drug-testing program beginning at both township schools.

"Parents are required to select whether or not they would like their child to participate in the program," Bernards Township Schools Superintendent said in a special district Friday Folder sent to parents at the end of last week. Selections need to be made for all current grade 6 to 12 student, he emphasized.

"We believe this program is a great opportunity for parents to help deter a child’s use of drugs and we strongly encourage parents to select to enroll their child(ren)," Markarian's email said. He added parents would help the school district get the program started by completing the selection forms by Wednesday, March 25. 

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The email specified that the selection portal for parents is located at http://www.bernardsboe.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=3096972&pageId=5967599. Parents may also proceed to the portal by going to the district website and selecting Parents and then Voluntary Random Drug Testing Program, Markarian's email added.

Selection must be made whether or not children are participating

In a March 6 email to parents, Markarian said that in order to implement the program correctly and according to the school district's policy and procedure, parents of all middle school and high school students need to make an active selection for their child(ren).  

"Even if you do not wish to participate in the program please actively indicate this through the selection form – it takes only a minute to complete," the superintendent asked at that time.

"Of course parents can choose to randomly drug test children on their own outside of our school program; however we are happy to be able to offer this service. Regardless of what you choose for your child(ren) we appreciate your help in completing the selection forms," the email added. 

The program, approved last summer, will allow parents to decide whether to sign up their children to be tested at random for possible drug use. Students' urine samples would be tested for substances that may include marijuana, amphetamines, barbituates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, MDMA, methadone, methamphetamines, opiates, oxycodone, phencyclidine (PCP), propoxyphene and any other substance defined as a "controlled substance" under New Jersey or federal law, according to the school district's description of the program last July.

In February, Markarian wrote to parents that the program would soon be rolled out. Part of the program included a visit by drug-sniffing dogs to Ridge High School. An unannounced visit by the dogs was conducted in February, shortly after the superintendent sent out the email about the pending program in his Friday Folder.

Teen forum to speak candidly about drugs and alcohol scheduled for April 9

In another effort to combat drug and alcohol use by township high schoolers and middle schoolers, a candid discussion by teens about what is going on in the community is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in the Warren Craft room of the Bernards Township Municipal Building at 1 Colllyer Lane. This evening is sponsored by the WAMS and RHS Parent Teacher Organizations, and the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse.

More information is at www.bernardsalliance.org, or is available by calling (908) 204-2523.