Reaction to drug test plan is mixed
By Matthew Burgoyne Staff Writer
The Board of Education and faculty members at Morgan County High School presented the Drug Screening Program to the public on May 5, and it was met with mixed reviews.
“We wanted to make sure we answered all of the questions parents and students have,” said Dr. Stan DeJarnett, superintendent of Morgan County Schools. Starting next school year, a drug screening program will be put into place. The program will randomly test student-athletes and parking permit holders throughout the year. Before a student can sign up for a sport or a parking pass, they must fill out a consent form allowing them to be tested. Every month, the toxicology lab at Morgan Memorial Hospital will randomly choose students to be tested. The date and time of the test will also be random.
The students will be picked randomly by a number that will be assigned to them at the beginning of the year. If their number is picked, they will report for a random drug test which consists of a urine sample. The test checks the sample for amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and propoxyphene. A positive test result will go through a second test to verify the positive. Students refusing to get tested will be considered positive for a drug.
“There will not be any false positives,” said Mr. H.D. Cannington, CEO, Morgan Memorial Hospital.
If a student is found positive, the consequences are dependent upon how many times they have tested positive.
• First Offense: Parents/Guardians of student will be notified. Student-athletes will be suspended for 10 percent of the team’s regular season games. Students with parking permits will be suspended from driving to school for 18 days (10 percent of the year). Student-athletes will continue with practices. Students and parents must provide evidence of enrollment in a rug-counseling program. Student must also submit to another drug test within a recommended time frame.
• Second Offense: Parents/Guardians of student will be notified. Student-athletes and/or parking permit holders will be suspended immediately from teams and/or driving privileges. Student will meet with parents and appropriate faculty to arrange for a four week (minimum) participation in a drug counseling program, to sign an agreement releasing Morgan County Board of Education from any liability, and apply for reinstatement to a team and/or parking permit. To reapply, the student must provide a negative drug test, continue drug counseling, agree to future testing on demand, and understand reinstatement can be denied.
• Third Offense: The student will be suspended from all interscholastic athletics/driving privileges for one calendar year. Parents/Guardians will be notified immediately. Student will continue counseling and treatment during the suspended year. Reinstatement will follow the same guidelines as in the previous offense.
“It is not to hurt them, it is to help them,” said Anne Stamps, Assistant Athletic Director and Head Softball Coach at Morgan County High School. “If there is one kid in this school using drugs, then we have a drug problem.” All of the presenters made it clear this was not a disciplinary program for the students. The drug screening program would be to help them. “This is a win-win situation for everyone because the emphasis is on prevention and intervention, and not discipline,” said Kenny Moore, Athletic Director at Morgan County High School. After all of the information was presented, members of the community, including parents and students, addressed their concerns with the program.
Aren’t the students still being disciplined?
“The students will not be punished academically,” said Cory Kirby, Associate at Harben, Hartley, and Hawkins Attorneys.
No student is being targeted. The presenters explained the tests are random, giving every student the chance to say no to drugs. The consequences for testing positive will not affect the student’s performance in the classroom.
Isn’t the information provided on the consent forms private information and who has access to that information?
When a student is randomly selected for a drug screening, they will list all of the medications they are currently taking on that day. Currently, no policy is set in place to check and make sure the student is telling the truth on those forms. Students are required to submit any medications to the school anyways at the beginning of the year.
Cory Kirby, working for the attorneys that represent the school system, also ensured that the information provided by the students will remain private. If a student tests positive, the positive test with the school cannot be used against the student in a court of law. The only people with access to the information are the students, parents/guardians, head coaches, and principals.
Who is funding this program?
Sheriff Robert Markley explained the project will be funded using the drug seizure money through the sheriff’s department. The school system and the sheriff’s department will look for alternative methods of paying for the tests after the first year. Dr. Mark Wilson explained that this program is new and revisions will be made. The purpose of the discussion on Monday night was to provide the community with preliminary knowledge and listen to their opinions. If you have any additional questions, e-mail or call Kenny Moore, Athletic Director, at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com and (706) 342-5044.