2,770 Teens Drug Tested by Company Headed by School Principal's Brother

Drug war crusaders are stripping high school students of privacy and trust.

Every single student at three private high schools in Cleveland, Ohio—about 2,770 teenagers in total—will be subject to hair follicle drug testing when they return to the classroom this fall, courtesy of Psychemedics Corp. Administrators from St. Ignatius High School (SIHS), St. Edward High School (SEHS), and Gilmour Academy made the announcement this week, insisting that their primary concern is the welfare of students at these private, Catholic schools. However, this claim warrants some scrutiny, since it's backed up by weak evidence, the testing puts kids at new risks, and the principal of SEHS, James Kubacki, happens to be the brother of Psychemedics CEO Raymond Kubacki.

Cleveland Scene magazine was the first to raise an eyebrow about this relationship, but K.C. McKenna, an SEHS administrator, insisted that it was basically happenstance. "Really, this came about as a proactive, preventative measure... Certainly, [James] knew a little more about the process because of his brother being involved, but his brother being CEO of that company in no way led to us making the decision to use Psychemedics."

McKenna also told Scene that "several years of research" went into the decision. Significantly, when Reason contacted all three schools, they were unable to meet a request for any actual documentation of this research, discussions of alternative policies, or board meeting minutes—just anecdotes.

Devin Schlickmann, a Gilmour administrator who until recently worked at SEHS, says that James Kubacki recused himself from voting on the decision and was open with board members about his relationship to the company's head. However, that their children would be drug tested by the principal's brother was conspicuously absent from SEHS's letter to parents. The other two schools also forgot to mention that fact. Likewise, the Plain Dealer reports that it wasn't stated at the institution-wide meetings to discuss with students their soon-to-be-curtailed privacy.

That's kind of surprising, since the Kubacki brothers are also alumni of SIHS, and James has donated money to the school as recently as last year. An SIHS representatives tells Reason that the school sees no conflict of interest in all these parties working together (Full disclosure: I'm also an SIHS alum). The three schools assert that Psychemedics was the only company with the FDA clearance they sought when the deal-making began (though a different company did approach them before it was finalized).

This wouldn't be the first time Psychemedics' promoters are close to the schools to which they're selling. Dr. George Elder, a principal for decades, says he instituted drug testing for all students and faculty members at his school. Now he's Psychemedics vice president and pitchman. The Huffington Post in 2012 highlighted Henry Connick, who "pushed hair testing in New Orleans schools, including Catholic schools, during his tenure as [district attorney]" and later became a board member and shareholder of Psychemedics.

the interwebzthe interwebzEven if one takes it at face value that the Kubacki brothers' deal is just coincidence, it's no fluke that Psychemedics is in the business of targeting as many minors as possible. "Our primary focus is workplace drug testing," Raymond said last year. But, as workplace drug testing has been on the decline for years, he acknowledged that Psychemedics is pivoting toward "emerging markets and one of those would be schools and colleges."

How much can Psychemedics and Raymond personally expect to gain from this lucky new relationship with nearly 3,000 teens? Each test costs $50, which adds up to $124,650 once every kid has forked over his first lock of hair. That's a hefty projected windfall for year one of this subscription-style contract. Pyschemedics will actually make more, though, since the schools will randomly pick students for additional testing throughout the year. And one can only estimate the number of kids who will get caught (or more tragically, get a false positive) and have to fork over another 50 bucks to Kubacki's company.

It's also worth noting how disproportionately Raymond Kubacki rewards himself for his pot puffer hunting business. Last year he raked in $667,880, or about 17 percent of his company's net income. For comparison, the regularly gasped-at compensation of Wal Mart's CEO is 0.1 percent of his company's net income.

Psychemedics constructs drug war bogeymen, and three more schools just took the bait. This Cleveland bunch worries that there's a "heroin epidemic" in town. Yet county-wide, only 161 people—or 1/100th of one percent of the population—died from heroin-related causes last year. They fret that lenient marijuana laws elsewhere the country will cause local youth to smoke, even though studies have debunked any such connection. Elder tells Reason that those states are being "ripped to shreds" by legal weed, so one can only imagine how he pitched his wares to the priests.

The schools themselves aren't exactly honest in saying that the results will be used to help kids, not punish them. SIHS acknowledged that they'll turn tests over to police if need be. Schlickmann admits that Gilmour will boot a pupil after three failed tests.

SIHS principal Dan Bradesca stated that "€œeven though there is no evidence of widespread substance abuse among our student body, even one student at risk is one too many." But what about the innocent students at risk of getting a false positive?

Psychemedics' big selling point (doc) to schools is that their tests produce zero false positives. That's simply not possible and it's actually quite a dangerous claim to make, because it creates a false sense of certainty. Even if there's only a 1 percent false positive rate, a handful of kids are going to be falsely accused and put in an indefensible position every single year. These academic institutions can count their "zero false positives" and supposed recoveries not just in the number of drug-testing success stories but in the money innocent kids will forfeit on another test and the time they'll lose getting help for a problem they don't have. The schools should probably also tally the number of kids who get hurt when they turn to more dangerous synthetic drugs that won't show up on their looming test.

What's harder to quantify, though, is how these 2,770 students will feel when their privacy and once-presumed innocence has evaporated, and the trust that they shared with their schools and parents has been corroded and replaced by whatever results come back from a lab.

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  • Dweebston||

    What's harder to quantify, though, is how these 2,770 students will feel when their privacy and once-presumed innocence has evaporated

    I'm certain they had that fanciful notion beaten out of them years ago.

  • John Galt||

    With a ruler to the knuckles administered by a nasty old hag of a nun.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Why does reason hate when businesses use cronyism and the drug war to earn revenue?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Why should they NOT?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    The perils of government school for all are many.

  • ||

    Ummmm...

    Every single student at three private high schools in Cleveland, Ohio...



    Plenty of perils at private ones, too, apparently.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Pulling the old RTFA trick huh?

    Since they are not government schools, at least the parents have a choice if their children attend and can successfully negotiate either individually or as a group against the policy of they like.

    Unlike dealing with a government school.

    FTFM

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    OT: This Apple iPhone commercial with little children singing a Pixies song has been creeping me out ever since I remembered which Pixies song it was.

    Oddly, when it was just a Pixies song sung by adults, I thought nothing about it.

  • ||

    You'd think someone at Apple would have looked up what that "Gigantic" thing Kim Deal is crooning about.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Why make the assumption that they did not know the whole time?

  • ||

    I love the MJ corpse ad. That's a special level of drug hysteria. Even in the height of the "drugs are bad, m'mkay" period of the 80's, drug warriors were usually smart enough not to try and say that someone could overdose on weed.

    The best part of this story is it's such a perfect storm of drug hysteria, cronyism, and for-the-children bullshit. Only the schools being public would make it better.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    His mother will be thinking, "How did I raise the only idiot on Earth who could somehow figure out how to overdose on weed?"

  • Hyperion||

    You mean you can't see all of the children and puppy dogs lying dead in the streets of CO, from eating pot candies? Oh, I know, you're too stoned to see them, mister!

  • Jerryskids||

    MJ corpse ad.

    It took me a minute to figure out this wasn't something Joe was doing, trying to make another buck off his kids.

  • PaulW||

    I'm pretty sure I almost overdosed on weed once. Of course, that could have just been the paranoia.

  • ||

    It's impossible to OD on weed. Long before you consume anything anywhere near a dangerous level, you will have already forgotten to smoke more.

  • ||

    Karen Perkowski, whose son will be a freshman at St. Ed's in the fall, also supports the mandatory testing.

    "Anything you can do to combat this issue," she said.

    Thank you, Dumb Pollack Twat. You've provided an excellent summary of why American civilization is collapsing.

  • ||

    "DPT" is a standard greeting for Clevelanders.

  • Hyperion||

    We have to collapse the village to save it, for the children.

    But first, burn those witches.

  • DenverJay||

    In all fairness to my fellow Poles, that is probably her married name; she may or may not be Polish. So, instead, "Thank you, Mr. Perkowski, for marrying such a dumb twat, and letting her take your name, thus re-enforcing the dumb Pollack meme."

  • avocats||

    "Anything you can do to combat this issue" regardless of whether the problem exists in the school or whether the testing would do anything about it. Sheeesh.

  • Hyperion||

    and the principal of one of the schools happens to be the brother of Psychemedics' CEO

    Ah, combining 2 of Murikas worst assaults on freedom, cronyism and the WOD.

  • lafe.long||

    When I was a kid, the quality and availability of drugs in the Catholic schools was superior to that in the public schools. Plus, those chicks really liked to have a good time.

    ... and "Pyschemedics" sounds like an evil corporation from a video game, doesn't it?

  • Acosmist||

    Demographics differences. Certain kids were in Catholic schools.

  • Hyperion||

    When I was a teen, the most promiscuous hot chicks were in church every Sunday. That's why I kept going to church even after I had wised up to magical bunnies, invisible sky gawds, and debils.

    And then, the most hedonistic, drug loving, womanizer guys that I hung out with were all the sons of pastors, priests, or whatever depending on the religion. I swear I am not making any of this up.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    Also, the mothers of the hot girls would see you at church and then would be more lenient when you bring their daughters home late.

  • Acosmist||

    Demographics. Don't imagine you found a paradoxical cause.

  • Hoofddorp Haarlemmermeer||

    The most horny, freaky girlfriend I had as a teenager was the daughter of a local protestant minister. Happy days!

  • Rhywun||

    their privacy and once-presumed innocence has evaporated

    What kind of sick monster wants children running around the hallways high all the time. GOD.

  • Almanian!||

    *hesitantly raises hand...quickly pulls it back down!*

    *giggles....takes another bong hit*

  • avocats||

    I assure that you no kid in Catholic school ever had privacy or a presumption of innocence.

  • Almanian!||

    If the consumers of private education want to do the same, fucked-up shit I automatically expect of public schools, that's their boggle, man.

    So - big "whatevs" on this one.

    Well, other than the key takeaway - "Dumb Pollack Twat", which is going to be the name of my soon-to-be-formed new speedmetal polka and celtic ballads band.

  • avocats||

    Thank you for making my afternoon.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    I don't have to presume your innocence on my private property. While I cannot legally detain or jail you, I can tell you that you can't some back if I don't like what you are doing, for any reason I like.

    Well, unless I have a business license since 1964.

  • AHEF||

    expect to see plenty of shaved head and bodies

  • ||

    Father O'Brien:

    "Your test results are in, my son, and I'm afraid we have a wee bit of bad news. But in the spirit a Christly forgiveness, I'm going to offer you a chance to absolve yourself of this terrible sin. Report to my private chambers in 15 minutes."

  • ||

    Marijuana: What will your mother say when she finds your corpse?

    My guess? Probably your standard, run-of-the-mill, mother-finds-kid-dead stuff: "Eek! Eek! Why, God, why??"

  • BillEverman||

    It is a private school, so the parents are making a choice to support this kind of paranoia and patronage. If it were a public school, I would be outraged. As it is, I just think it's kinda dumb.

  • livefree||

    I would like to thing that this would not happen at a public school. But, who knows these days.

  • livefree||

    *think

  • craiginmass||

    It is public schools - backed by the conservatives on the SCOTUS:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06.....s-for.html

  • PaulW||

    It is kind of sad that kids would have to be uprooted from their lives in order of parents to make any meaningful difference.

    Though, I'm not sure which parents are against their kids being tested for drugs, so there is that.

    Personally, as a person who cannot do any drugs whatsover for fear of losing his job, I would rather the choice of what you do on your free time have absolutely nothing to do with your employer. Does that make me a statist or a freedom lover?

  • OneOut||

    They won't even let you guys drink ?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Would be interesting to see what would happen if any of the kids decided to sue. Any precident for kids sueing over rights? Actual rights, free stuff.

  • avocats||

    Hard to sue a private school.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Heh, if I was one of those kids, I'd shave and Nair myself bald as a pool cue from head to toe the day before they took follicle donations, just to tick them off.

  • PaulW||

    That is considered a refusal and just as good as failing it.

  • Cloudbuster||

    I imagine so. This is why all my kids have been homeschooled.

  • Hayeksplosives||

    In high school, ca. 1990, I was pulled out of class by the principal and marched to my locker where there was a pair of cops and a German Shepherd and another couple of teachers. They told me the dog had detected a positive for drugs and wanted me to open the locker. I was a straight A student, truly a model student, and I laughed and said well obviously there was a mistake. (I will never forget the narrow eyes and evil smile of one of the teachers who WANTED me to get busted.) I saw that I was the only one who believed in my innocence (or even the possibility of it), so I opened the locker and the cops searched. Meanwhile, trying to be helpful, I suggested that maybe the dog was detecting something the previous user had had in the locker.
    The cops found nothing (which is what I had), and they let me go back to class. Eventually, days later, one teacher told me that, sure enough, that locker had belonged to a dude who was a known user/dealer the previous year. No apology of course.
    So it ended OK, but I have never forgotten the feeling of being wrongly accused by the "authoritahs" with their "proof" and also of the evil desire to see a successful student destroyed that I observed in one of the cops and one of the teachers.
    I'm surprised it took me this long to come around to libertarianism.

  • Gene||

    I would have took up weed just for spite after that.

  • ||

    Therein lies the problem. There are evil people in position of authority. This is why you need to keep power structures small to minimize corruption and abuse.

    After all, who will watch the guardians?

  • PaulW||

    I once had a cop tell me HE smelled marijuana in my car and had the right to search it.

    I was never more than a party toker, so I never had any on me, and I had never even smoked in that car.

    Guy was a prick, after violating my rights, he still gave me a ticket for speeding.

  • Gene||

    Psychemedics

    Punchable name.

  • Hayeksplosives||

    Up there with Skynet, Psycore, Homewatch, Cyberdyne Systems, Massive Dynamics, Omni Consumer Products, RePet...

    (Ok, I kind of like the idea of RePet)

  • Hayeksplosives||

    Um, I meant Night Watch, not Homewatch. My memory is wearing out...
    Wiki Night Watch (Bab 5)

  • crufus||

    This is not about protecting students from drugs.

    It’s meant to ensure that the workerbots these schools graduate are prepared to endure any indignity that their overlords decide to subject them to.

  • John C. Randolph||

    They are getting pretty damned blatant about it, aren't they?

    -jcr

  • royalphoenix||

    ohio is a dead state.

  • RishJoMo||

    Sometimesm an you jsut have to rol lwith the punches.

    www.myAnon.tk

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    Seems like they should be testing anonbot.

  • Mark22||

    Is it good policy? No. But it's a private school. Private businesses have much more leeway on issues like nepotism because its customers and owners can decide what to do about it.

  • Mauser||

    You do bring up a good point, in Northeastern Ohio Gilmour Academy is a well known private school,

  • avocats||

    True, but sad that parents would send their kids to a place with such officious and intellectually corrupt intermeddlers.

  • craiginmass||

    It should be carefully noted that so-called "conservatives" and "free thinking constitutionalists" on the SCOTUS were behind many of the decisions which got us here.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06.....s-for.html

    Once again, proudly, Reason comes down on the side of we liberals.
    Congrats!

  • Acosmist||

    Private school, gg nub.

  • Mark22||

    The SCOTUS decision you refer to is irrelevant because it's about public schools.

    And it's the self-proclaimed "liberals" that have abandoned liberalism. When there is agreement between libertarianism and "liberals" it's because, occasionally, even liberals remember what "liberalism" stands for. Usually, however, they just push a dangerous mix of progressivism and right wing populism.

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    "Irrelevant" is often a good response to anything the Masshole posts.

  • craiginmass||

    Calling it irrelevant is ridiculous - like it or not, it sets cultural and societal norms. They should have thrown it out 9-0.

    My point is simply that if you take a careful look at most of the overreaches involving "law and order", you'll find "conservatives" and "small government constitutionalists" behind 75% of them.

    Also, the modern version of corporate libertarianism is invoked due to the allowance (and pull) of profiteering. The owners of this site and mag, the Kochs, spend a good bit of their money and time making sure money talks louder. In many of those cases, the money talks in such a way as to harm public health and therefore limit the most important freedoms (clean air, water, land, etc.).

    This is simply an extension of that type of world view. It makes money in many ways...from the original testing to the treatment of those caught smoking the devil weed.

    Any libertarian worth the name would agree with the liberal views on this stuff....and it appears many do, but they don't give us credit for our many works which buttress freedom.

    No, freedom is not the right to keep 99% of the dollars you make and give 1% to the government. Freedom has much more to do with not being locked up, having to pee in jars, being able to breath clean air, etc.

    That's how we liberal roll. I'm glad to see you joining us even if you don't have the good sense to realize we're on the same side.

  • Curtisls87||

    I note that you have listed the Kochs as the "owners of this site and mag." While it is true that the Kochs have donated to the Reason Foundation, they are not the largest donors, nor do they make up even a sizable portion of the donors to the Reason Foundation, the parent of Reason magazine and Reason.com. Additionally, the Reason Foundation has a 4 out of 4 star rating with the charitynavigator.org, which includes transparency of funding. By starting from a false premise, the rest of our arguments lose luster, even if there may be some validity to them, although in this case, they have almost no validity as the Kochs have stated they are against the "war on drugs" and have argued in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

    Having said that, most libertarians do see that there are subjects where classic liberals and libertarians agree.

  • avocats||

    Tossing about rampant lies (Koch brothers as "owners" of the site or magazine?) undermines any argument you seek to make.

    Keep on liberal rolling.

  • avocats||

    That should be "us liberals."

    Even if that were accurate, why would you be surprised?

  • Mauser||

    "Happenstance" my ass!
    "Certainly, [James] knew a little more about the process because of his brother being involved, but his brother being CEO of that company in no way led to us making the decision to use Psychemedics."-

    What a big load a shit-His effen brother is hooking him up,
    $Cha Ching$$ all the way to the bank.....

  • Paul Pot||

    Police state.
    Time for a revolution.

  • avocats||

    $125,000 grand a year for an at-best worthless service? I guess these schools no longer need donations from their alums and community members.

  • avocats||

    So sad that South Park becomes more like a documentary series each year.

  • GusArnold||

    It is truly awful that people make livings from the misfortune of others. The whole private for profit "treatment" industry feeds off of the addicted and sick. The school officials should have alerted the parents of attendees that the drug testing company was connected to the principal's brother. They deserved the right know.

  • GusArnold||

    I believe that if drug addiction was treated as a disease rather than a crime, all parties would benefit. Are people accused of possession of a drug really a danger to society? Drug addiction hurts the users. They need help, and prison isn't going to give them that.

  • GusArnold||

    School is a very stressful thing. The pressure to keep grades at a high to get into universities is large. Adderall is known to increase focus for a long period of time, and many students take the ADHD medication in order to write papers without having their minds wandering. However, the drug is dangerous and addictive. Using Adderall can lead to the use of other more dangerous drugs.

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