Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Board OKs moving forward with drug testing

June 7, 2007

Students in De Soto USD 232 middle and high schools may soon have to submit to random drug test to participate in or attend school events.

De Soto USD 232 Board of Education members Monday saw the first draft of a new policy for random urine drug testing for middle school and high school students.

The draft allows for random drug testing of any students involved in extra-curricular activities like sports, clubs and groups. Students with school parking permits or those wishing to attend school-sponsored events like dances also will be subject to random testing. Under the proposal, students who test positive three times in a year would permanently lose their activity privileges. The suspension could be limited to a year if students complete a rehabilitation program.

The board-appointed random drug testing committee prepared the draft after researching and developing the policy for more than six months. Committee members included students, parents, board members, administrators and staff members.

De Soto High School Principal Dave Morford, a member of the committee, said the purpose of the policy is to help students with rehabilitation.

"The whole goal is not to punish," he said. "Our goal is to give students another way that they can say 'no.'"

The committee came to the board to ask permission to seek legal advice from the district attorney and to determine the cost of implementing the policy. However, committee member Joe Novak asked that the board not implement the policy immediately.

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well," said Novak, principal at Mill Valley High School.

Board vice president Janine Gracy said if they did wait to implement the policy, the district could apply for a grant to help offset the cost of the policy.

The board unanimously approved the committee to move forward with the policy, but all members agreed that it would be too soon to implement the policy in the fall because of minor details that need to be reviewed and the possibility of grant funding.

One of the details that still needs to be reviewed is what constitutes the third offense in a year. Board member Sandra Thierer asked Novak if a student had two offenses during the spring and then a third in August whether the student would lose activity privileges.

"That is something we are still struggling with," Novak said.

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