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S. Harrison adopts random drug testing of students

Students who plan to take part in extra-curricular activities ‘ from playing sports to taking part in clubs and even driving to school ‘ in the South Harrison Community School Corp. during the upcoming school year will be subject to random drug tests.
The newly adopted policy, which went into effect June 1 and includes this summer’s band and sports camps, has been in the works for more than a year. Originally, the plan was to have the policy put in place during the spring semester of 2006, but a few wrinkles had to be ironed out in terms of wording in the policy.
The current plan includes students in grades seven through 12. Though students in grades seven and eight would not be randomly tested, they may be asked to submit to a test when reasonable suspicion exists.
‘We looked at several models, talked with our legal counsel and really put a lot of thought into it before we decided to go forward with the policy,’ South Harrison Supt. Dr. Neyland Clark said. ‘We were close last spring, but we didn’t feel comfortable with all of it for the spring sports.
‘Keith Marshall and Michael Uhl sort of spearheaded the effort in getting it right, and we all felt this summer was a good time to begin with the summer camps, football camps and those things coming on that we could transition into it pretty easily.’
Marshall, who will be the new principal at South Central Junior-Senior High School effective July 1, said he believes the nine-page document outlining the policy could just as easily have been 500 pages.
‘The thing is, no matter how much effort you put into coming up with a policy like this, someone is going to try and find fault with it or find a loophole. We’ve gone over this quite a bit and sent it to our lawyers, and we feel like we’ve got it right,’ Marshall said.
According to the policy, it is mandatory that each student who participates in extra- or co-curricular activities, or drives to or from school, must sign and return a consent form prior to their participation in those activities. Failure to comply would result in them being ineligible to participate in activities and/or non-issuance of a student driving permit to school.
Each eligible student will be assigned a number; then a random, computer-generated list will decide who gets chosen for a urinalysis. The test can detect alcohol, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, metabolites, LSD, marijuana, methadone, methaqualone, nicotine, opiates, phencyclidine, propoxyphene and other specified drugs.
Any student who tests positive will receive a suspension from all extra- and co-curricular activities, including driving to or from school, for 365 days. Suspensions may carryover to the following school year. However, this term may be reduced to 30 school days or two calendar months (whichever is less) provided the student successfully passes a second drug test, which would have to be paid for by the student’s family.
If a student tests positive, his or her parent or guardian may submit any documented prescription, explanation or information which will be considered whether a test result has been satisfactorily explained.
‘We can call the company and see if an over-the-counter medicine or something like that could have caused the result, and they can immediately give us the answer,’ Marshall said. ‘They are extremely knowledgeable and have been doing it long enough that they know all the tricks.’
The corporation will use Midwest Toxicology Services Inc. out of Indianapolis to conduct the tests. Currently, MTS serves multiple school districts across the state and has been in business since 1992.
The company can bring its mobile lab to the school anytime, from Monday through Saturday, to administer the tests so students will understand they can be tested any time during the school year.
The tests cost $10 to $25 each and would be paid for through the athletic and miscellaneous general funds, as well as through Drug Free grant money the school receives.
So far, feedback about the new policy has been minimal, Clark said.
‘There could be some down the road, but the key is, if a child is not involved in those types of substances, then they have nothing to worry about,’ Clark said. ‘I don’t think we have a huge drug problem, but any use is significant enough that we felt like it had to be brought to our attention.’
To view the entire policy online, go to http://tinyurl.com/24255w.

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