Drug-testing proposal in Davis high schools advances despite concerns

Mar 20 2013 - 7:53pm

FARMINGTON -- The Davis School Board gave a tentative nod to random drug testing among high school athletes, cheerleaders, drill team members and student body officers.

The board approved by 5-2 the random drug testing on its first reading Tuesday at its board meeting. Board members will give a final vote on the policy at its April 16 board meeting.

School Board Member David Lovato said he was concerned that no ethnic group was represented on the committee that drafted the policy.

School Board Member John Smith said he still needs to do some research before he can approve the policy.

John Robison, the district's healthy lifestyle director, said parents selected to be on the committee were recommended by high school principals.

Lovato said he believes having someone from the African-American or Hispanic communities would have been beneficial to the community.

He also said he is concerned that with only 10 percent of the high school student body being selected for random drug testing that it will contribute to bullying.

Michelle Beus, the district's legal specialist, said students who choose to participate in the selected extra curricular activities will sign a form that basically says, "As part of choosing this activity you will have this test."

She said the tests are not punitive but intervention and prevention.

Robison said he has received 29 emails from parents who approve the proposed policy and five emails from parents who are against the testing.

Robison contacted a company that does the drug testing at a neighboring school district to find out the number of positive tests. He said, in the first year there were 62 positive tests. Now four years later, there have been only 12 positive tests.

Districts that currently do random drug testing are Box Elder, Ogden, Weber, Rich and Murray, Robison said.

Each test would cost the district $15 to $16. The district plans to do 40 tests, or five students per high school, each week at a cost of $25,000 for the school year, he said.

The four groups -- athletes, cheerleaders, drill team members and student body officers -- were chosen not necessarily because of any belief that drug use is high, but because students in those groups tend to be involved in other extracurricular activities such as band, orchestra, drama and choir, Robison said.

If students make a team or are elected as student body officers, they and their parents will sign a consent form stating they understand that random drug testing will occur during the year, he said.

If a student tests positive, the school administrator will contact parents, according to the proposed policy.

The first time a student test positive, he or she will be suspended for two games, meets, matches, events or performances, but will still be allowed to practice or meet with their group.

If there is a second positive test, the student will be suspended for six weeks of games, meets or competitions, and the student will be required to get some intervention.

The student will be allowed to practice with the group only after an assessment has been completed and a clean drug test has been provided. Parents are responsible for the cost of assessment and testing.

The third time a student produces a positive drug test, the student is suspended for 18 weeks from all practices, games, meets and competitions.

The student can only get back on the team at the end of the 18 weeks, and only after completing a formal assessment, intervention and treatment program, plus provide a clean drug test, according to the proposed policy.

Tests will be conducted for a number of substances, including methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone, ecstasy and pharmaceutical-strength steroids.

 

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