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 Policy Will Test Students, Not Staff, Teachers

December 3, 2008 - A unanimous Charles A. Beard School Board has voted in favor of randomly drug testing students who participate in extracurricular activities or drive to school, starting next August.

Superintendent Gary Storie told board members at their Nov. 18 meeting that the urinalysis drug testing policy, modeled after a Rush County Schools policy that has withstood a legal challenge, is not punitive. Instead, he said the focus is on intervention.

The policy, which applies to students in grades 7-12, says it “is not intended to be disciplinary or punitive in nature” and that its purpose is to “educate, help, and direct students away from drug and alcohol abuse and toward a healthy and drug free participation.” While the policy states that a positive test result will not lead to a student being punished by suspension or expulsion, there can be adverse consequences.

For example, any student who tests positive for alcohol, tobacco, or any drug classified as a controlled substance under Indiana law, including performance enhancing drugs like steroids, is prevented from participating in extracurricular activities until a subsequent test yields a negative result. As presently drafted, the policy does not, however, state that a positive result will lead to a similar suspension of driving privileges.

Additionally, the policy notes that students are also subject to the consequences for violating any rules or requirements set by the athletic department or the coaching staff or sponsor of any particular sport or activity. There was no discussion at last week’s meeting as to what these additional consequences might be for athletes and students participating in other extracurricular activities.

There can also be financial consequences for parents and guardians, who may, in some circumstances, be responsible for the cost of follow-up testing of students who have tested positive. The policy also makes parents and guardians responsible for the cost of having positive samples retested, as well as for any counseling or treatment from nonschool sources.

Nearly a third of the six-page policy is devoted to 18 paragraphs that describe procedures for the testing and chain of custody of test samples. Storie also provided the board with copies of a consent and nonconsent forms that students will be asked to sign.

Board Vice President Steve Dalton said he didn’t think students who opt not to participate in extracurricular activities or drive to school should be required to sign a form withholding their consent to the drug searches. Storie said there may be a legal reason for requiring the nonconsent form to be signed, but that he would need to check.

In addition to randomly drug testing students who participate in extracurricular activities or drive to school, the policy also allows, with parental consent, for testing of students who show “signs of reasonable suspicion.” The policy says factors that would be considered in such a determination would include, but are not limited to, “excessive discipline problems and/or excessive absences from school.” Parents and guardians may also request testing of their students.

Board member Mark Fort asked whether lay coaches -- persons who, except for their coaching assignments, are not otherwise employed by CAB -- could be tested. Storie said the school corporation in his home community of Edinburg had unsuccessfully tried to do that, but that there’s no legal basis that would allow testing of these coaches.

Dalton said he would like for any coach who transports students to and from events to be subjected to the same drug testing policy that applies to CAB’s bus drivers. Storie he thought it might be possible to implement a policy requiring testing in that situation and that he would research the issue.

A second and final vote on the student drug testing policy could come at the board’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Dec. 16. Interested persons may obtain copies of the policy from CAB’s central office at 345 N. Adams St. during regular business hours.

Toward the end of the Nov. 18 meeting, Storie told the board that he hoped the cost of implementing the drug testing policy would be covered by a $25,024 federal Safe and Drug Free Schools grant he had recently applied for. He said proceeds from the grant might also be used to pay for a part-time counselor to work with students.

 

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