A school board meeting this week was greeted by a number of furious parents in Bergen County, where the Northern Valley Regional High School District is proposing random drug and alcohol testing for students.

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The plan is still in rough draft mode, but if it moves forward as planned, testing could begin as soon as January 2014.

Dr. Christopher Nagy, superintendent of the district, said the proposed policy affects about 80 percent of the student population in Demarest and Old Tappan high schools.

"All of this is with absolutely no record whatsoever that would go to colleges," Nagy said.

Parents in the district, and elsewhere, may be surprised to learn that similar policies are not uncommon in New Jersey. According to the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), more than 30 school districts in the state have some variation of random drug testing. Both federal court decisions and New Jersey law give local boards the authority to conduct such programs.

Under state statute, school districts can conduct random testing of student athletes, students involved in extracurricular activities, and students who have parking privileges.

"It's for the health and safety of students," said NJSBA's Frank Belluscio. "It's not punitive."

The penalty for a positive test, or refusing to consent, is limited to a revoked parking permit and/or suspension from extracurricular activities. Nagy said his district's proposal, in current mode, would introduce a student assistance counselor to the student's family on a first offense.

Random drug testing programs have been in New Jersey schools since the late 1990s.