5/23/2013 9:39:00 PM P-T to implement drug testing
By Rick Lomenick
Only a small handful of people took advantage of the drug testing policy meeting held last Tuesday night at the Perkins-Tryon High School Commons.
The purpose of the open meeting was to explain the new policy that will go into effect when the new school year begins. All junior high and high school students in 7th-12th grades who will be involved in any extra-curricular activities will be required to be tested.
All students will be tested on Thursday, Aug. 8. "The purpose and intent of this policy is to help keep our kids drug-free," said P-T athletic director Jerry Burnett.
The policy states that extracurricular activities are those recognized by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association as well as those sanctioned by P-T Schools that aren't related to a student's academic requirements or success in a course.
The school district has entered into an agreement with the Weaver Drug Testing Laboratory out of Tulsa. Burnett said he and other district representatives have been meeting with the group to learn the guidelines for administering tests and the protocol that goes with it.
As mentioned, all students will be tested on that day. For many of them, their specifi c activities may not have started as the start of the new school year will be Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Football and fast-pitch softball will already begin but those students will still have to take the urine test in order to continue with their participation Burnett also pointed out that if a student tests positive or "hot" in using the same terminology the testing laboratory used, it will only affect his or her participation with extracurricular activities.
There will be no academic sanctions for violation of this policy. "We will not fail a kid so this will not hurt their grades," Burnett said.
The urine test that all the students will take will be looking for amphetamines, benzodiazepine, cocaine, THC (marijuana), ecstasy, and opiates. This test will cost the district $16 per student and will cover all the extracurricular activities they are involved in.
Weaver Drug can do additional tests for the K-2 synthetic drugs at an additional cost. Burnett said the district has the option to include that if they feel it will be needed.
After the initial round of testing, Burnett said the district will then utilize a random selection process and will be notified by the drug test laboratory as to which students will be tested during an unannounced visit. The cost of those tests will be paid for by the district and only a small percentage of students will be tested. Testing can also be done on students if there is reasonable suspicion based on specific personal observations.
If a student tests positive, a second test will be done by Weaver on that same sample and if the same results are reached, Burnett said he will be notified and a meeting will be set up with the student along with their parents or custodial guardians, the building principal, and the head coach or activity sponsor. If the student and his or her parents or custodial guardians desire another test of the remaining portion of the specimen, Burnett said he will arrange for another test at the same laboratory or at another laboratory agreeable to the school district. The district will not be responsible for paying for that test.
The policy adds the student has the right to appeal the decision to an appeal committee comprised of an administrator, a teacher, and a counselor from the school district. Such appeal must be lodged within three school days of notice of the initial report or any offense as stated in this policy, during which time the student will remain eligible to participate in any extracurricular activities.
The committee shall then determine whether the original finding was justified. The decision of the appeal committee may be appealed to the Perkins-Tryon Board of Education. Such appeal, the policy states, must be lodged within three school days of notice of the decision of the appeal committee, during which time the student will NOT be eligible to participate in any extracurricular activities.
The board of education will determine whether the results of the original appeal were justified. There is no further appeal right from the board's decision and their decision shall be conclusive in all respects. If the board overturns the decision of the committee, no further disciplinary action shall be taken on the matter. Burnett then explained the restrictions that will be placed on the student if their drug test is positive. The first offense will require the student to successfully complete four hours of substance abuse education/counseling from a licensed drug counselor. This will apply for either in season or off season offenses.
For both in season and off season offenses, the policy states the student will be tested at random intervals at student expense for the remainder of the school year. The time and date will be unknown to the student and will be determined by the athletic director. These restrictions and requirements shall be consecutive in nature and begin immediately following the reporting of the results of a positive drug use test as stated in the policy. Restrictions for second and third offenses within the same school year were also explained. For the second offense, the student will be suspended from participation for 20 percent of the entire season's total scheduled competition, and successful completion of four hours of substance abuse education and counseling form a licensed drug counselor. The third offense calls for the complete suspension from participation in all extracurricular activities, meetings, practices outside the school day, performances, and competition for the equivalent of a school year.
If a student participating in extracurricular activities refuses to submit to a drug use test, they shall not be eligible to participate in any extracurricular activities including all meetings, practices, performances, and competitions for 18 continuous and consecutive school weeks. All new students to the district must take the drug use test before they can begin participation in extracurricular activities as well.
"This is a positive thing we're doing and I'm glad we're doing it," Burnett said, "and it gives the kids an out to say no since it could affect their participation in sports, ag, cheerleading, or whatever extracurricular activity they are involved in."