drug testing in schools strictly confidential: DepEd assures no ‘tokhang’
By Connie Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- The regional office of the Department of Education here assured the public that the random drug testing (RDT) being conducted among junior and senior high school students in both private and public schools will be treated with confidentiality and will not result to ‘tokhang,’ or the knocking on doors by police for the arrest of suspected drug users and peddlers that in not a few cases resulted in summary killing or execution. There had been reports, especially in Metro Manila, of minors being killed during anti-drug operations by police authorities that have drawn outrage from the people and the families of the victims. DepEd Assistant Regional Director Tolentino Aquino in a press conference said they need to protect the welfare, safety and security of the students --- the results of the random drug testing to be treated with strict confidentiality. The main purpose of drug testing in public and private schools is to determine the prevalence of drug users among the students and to know the extent of drug usage in schools, Aquino explained. The Department of Education recently released the guidelines for the conduct of drug testing in all public and private high schools for SY 2017-2018 with a 95-percent confidence level on the results. We have to emphasize that if a student is tested positive, the drug testing coordinator will inform the parents and students of the results, and the information is regarded with utmost secrecy and confidentiality, Aquino said. Students found to be drug dependent will undergo the prescribed intervention program under the supervision of the DOH-accredited facility or physician or private practitioners in consultation with the parent --- the process of observation and counselling shall be done in coordination with the Drug Counselor of the school, Aquino said. Aquino further explained the positive confirmatory drug result will not be used as ground for expulsion or any disciplinary action against the student and will not be reflected in any and all academic records. The results shall not be used to incriminate any students for further legal action and shall not be used as evidence in any court or tribunal where the subject student stands to be accused, it was also pointed out. Aquino said while the students undergo interventions, they will go in a modular type of teaching, materials will be made available for that kind of scheme, and it will be a home-based type of learning. Aquino said the students would not be exposed to humiliation if they test positive for drug use. “The DepEd created a Data Confidentiality Committee where the results of the test will be made known only to the parent and the student, no name of student and school will be released,” he said. As of this time, DepEd Bicol is undertaking measures to inform all public and private secondary schools about the drug testing. Records show that in the Bicol region, there are a total 491,149 junior high school students in public schools and 64,475 in private schools. For Senior High in public schools, there are 73,304 in Grade 11 and 62,512 in Grade 12. In private schools, there are 24,367 students in Grade 11 and 20,488 in Grade 12.