FAVERSHAM, England - A British school has launched a pilot program where students as young as 11 are subjected to random drug tests, a project that has generated interest in Washington and fed a civil liberties debate on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Abbey School in this southeastern market town is testing students by mouth swab for traces of heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Parents must give permission for the testing, and even then, students can refuse.
Former headmaster Peter Walker, who started the program, gave up his school job to become Britain's official ambassador for drug testing. He recently went to Washington to give a presentation to John Walters, director of the White House drug policy office.
Walters said similar tests aren't far off in the United States. "This (drug testing) is a public health measure," he said.