Adams County parent upset after 6th-grader drug tested without notification

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THORNTON, Colo. — Adams 12 Five Star Schools is apologizing to a Brighton mother after her 6th-grade daughter was drug tested at school without the mother’s knowledge.

Twelve-year-old Alyssa Burk says she was in class at Century Middle School in Thornton last week when administrators walked in. They pulled her out of class asking to talk to her. She agreed and asked if she was in trouble. The administrators told her she was not.

“They were saying, ‘You smell like marijuana’,’ and then, ‘We’re just going to test you real quick and see if you’re smoking it,'” Alyssa said.

The test came back negative.

Alyssa’s mom says she was never notified before or after the test.

“We were driving home and she told me they pulled her out of class because she smelled like marijuana,” said Amber, Alyssa’s mom. “Then she goes, ‘It’s OK, Mom. I passed my test.’ And I said, ‘What test?'”

Amber said her father, Alyssa’s other guardian, was also never notified.

“Not only did they do it without consent, but they didn’t call back and say, ‘Hey, by the way, this is what happened today at school.’ And I think they should have,” Amber said.

District policy says, “attempts will be made to contact parents prior to the administration of sobriety tests.”

A spokesperson for Adams 12 Five Star Schools sent the following statement to FOX31 and Channel 2:

In Adams 12 Five Star Schools we strive to keep schools safe and drug free. If a student is suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance, trained school staff may administer tests to determine if the student is under the influence.

Our practice, per district policy, is to attempt to contact the guardian in the primary household prior to the administration of the test. Failure to grant permission to participate in or allow tests does not prohibit administrators from proceeding with the test when reasonable suspicion exists that a student is under the influence of a controlled substance.

In this situation the school did not contact the guardian in the primary household prior to the administration of the test. Following the test, school administration has been in contact with the student’s guardians and is committed to improving communication moving forward. 

Amber says she’s received an apology email from the school’s principal, promising a more up-front notification with parents in the future.

“I think that’s good. I like that result,” Amber said, saying there may be other parents who are unaware of the district’s policy. “I just want people to know this is not OK. I’m not OK with it.”

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