Columbia Public Schools reject drug policy trend
COLUMBIA – While some Missouri schools have jumped on board to implement drug testing policies, Columbia Public Schools remain content without drug testing policies.
“Drug testing policies are set at the local level by school boards," said Sarah Potter, Missouri Department of Education and Secondary Education Communications Director. "There are no state laws requiring drug testing of students.”
Columbia Public Schools Communication Director Michelle Baumstark said there isn’t a need for Columbia schools to drug test.
"It's just not something that's a fit for Columbia Public Schools," Baumstark said.
Jefferson City High School has 2,575 students participating in MSHSAA-sanctioned activities and sports, according to MSHSAA. The school implemented drug testing policies eight years ago, and Activities Director Mark Caballero said he is happy with the policies.
"A lot of the time, it can become a controversial thing, but really, it's a drug education thing," Caballero said. "It's about educating the youth to make great decisions."
Baumstark disagrees with the school's responsibility in drug testing.
“We are here to educate, not to drug test students.”
Baumstark said the CPS district is one of the top ten largest school districts in Missouri, with double the number of MSHSAA enrollments compared to Jefferson City.
“With a district our size, we are two to three times larger than Boonville,” Baumstark said. “It would also be difficult to manage with fidelity and equity in addition to some of the costs associated with that.”
“Local school boards are also in control of how they spend their budgets," Potter said. "Funding for the testing would be determined at the local level.”
Jefferson City High School conducts bulk testing for MSHSAA members every sport season per activity they are in, plus one to three random testings a week. A test costs around $8-10 per kit for bulk testings, and ranges from $10-24 for random testings. Cabarello and Assistant Activities Director Lou Mazzocco present to the superintendent which kits are needed, and the Jefferson City school board decides on a need basis for the kits in order to adjust the budget.
"We don't have the funding to do something like that at the scale that we would need to do it for Columbia Public Schools," Baumstark said.
While the Jefferson City school board only implemented drug testing policies in grades nine through 12 involved in MSHSAA activities, the Boonville school district policies apply to grades seven through 12.
“Private schools and smaller districts have more leeway and ability to do drug-testing," Baumstark said.
"Really, we're not trying to catch kids," Mazzocco said. "We're trying to...give kids a way of saying 'no' because they are making the choice."
“There are many legal questions that would have to be addressed should Columbia ever consider moving forward with something like this,” Baumstark said.
If CPS considers implementing drug testing policies, it would have to satisfy a lot of requirements, including hiring a lawyer and education of conducting these procedures.
Baumstark said, "The medical community may have more of an ability to be able to do that. We're not doctors, we're not physicians.