Drug testing keeps SH’s students on right track
More than a few feathers were ruffled last summer when it was announced that the South Harrison Community School Corp. was adopting a random drug-testing policy for all high school students taking part in any extracurricular activities, ranging from athletics to band to driving to school.
In typical throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater fashion, opponents said it was a violation of rights, even though students don’t have the right to smoke joints nor to be juiced up on steroids. Others said it was simply the first step towards the end of American freedom as we know it.
Bologna. Any responsible parent worth their salt should have embraced the policy. Most did. Some, however, didn’t because they believed the policy to be too exclusive.
The policy made it mandatory that each student who participated in extra- or co-curricular activities, or drove to or from school, sign and return a consent form prior to their participation in those activities. Failure to comply would result in the students being ineligible to participate in activities and/or non-issuance of a student driving permit to school.
Any student who tested positive received a suspension from all extra- and co-curricular activities, including driving to or from school, for 365 days. However, this term could 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.
Last year, South Harrison randomly tested 4 to 5 percent of eligible students at both South Central (nine to 13 students) and Corydon Central (28 to 35) high schools four times last year. All told, South Harrison had 17 tests return positive for tobacco, five for marijuana and one for morphine.
Sure, 23 students failed the test, and we hope that number never goes up.
But the overwhelming number of students who didn’t test positive should be praised and applauded for staying clean.
Random drug testing helps kick peer pressure to the curb by offering a valid excuse to not get involved in destructive decisions. It also teaches that there are consequences for doing wrong. For parents, it helps give peace of mind that their children are clean.
The question we have is when will the other two school systems get on board.
Matt Kellems, assistant principal at Lanesville Junior-Senior High School, said discussions about random testing has taken place, but, ‘We are not considering the implementation of such a plan.’
According to Kellems, Lanesville’s current student handbook allows for drug testing based on a reasonable suspicion, as well as having student athletes submit to random testing as a part of a probationary athletic eligibility.
‘So to answer your question, yes, we have thought about it, and we do have testing currently in place, but no, we are not ready to pass a blanket policy effecting all students at this time,’ Kellems said.
At North Harrison, Principal Kelly Simpson said he, too, has looked into various policies but is taking a wait-and-see approach due to pending litigation at other school systems.
‘It’s been kicked around, but we’re hesitant to do anything until we can find out if this is something that could wind up costing us money in court,’ Simpson said. ‘If we do it, we want to be able to do it the right way.’
Random drug testing ‘ especially when it’s not all-inclusive ‘ will never completely remove tobacco, alcohol, steroids and the like from our schools. It will never be the end-all solution to underlying problems such as economic status and good old-fashioned kids being kids. But any step that responsible adults can take to help guide young adults towards making positive choices certainly can’t hurt.