Student Drug Testing Underway
Administrators at Southern Boone County High School met with parents Wednesday to taking a stand against drug use. Parents came to ask questions about the new drug testing policy that starts in just two weeks.
"It's a five panel test and we cover amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, opiates and fenyl cyline," said Principal Johnny Thompson.
Every month five percent of the students will randomly be selected for screening. Despite controversy over student rights, the administration has had few complaints from parents.
"I don't think we'll have a problem getting them, I think most of them will do it," said Thompson.
"I'm all for it. I'm ready to start," said parent Terry Craig.
That's because the school has seen more than it's share of drug related problems.
"Being in high school and losing your life is way too young," said Craig
Only two months ago, recent graduate Ben Smith died of an overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs. It was the second death students here have seen in a year.
"We've had too many deaths here by drugs in Ashland already," said Craig.
Students in extra-curricular activities and those wanting parking permits must submit to drug testing. Students who violate the policy may not set foot on this field again for a long time. The punishment for the first violation is a 20 percent reduction in playing time. Repeated violations bring more serious consequences. School administrators say no parents have refused to sign the consent forms.
For more information, continue reading the full transcript of the question and answer session among concerned parents and Johnny Thompson, the Principal at Southern Boone County High School, Joe Serles, the Assistant Principal, and Pay Lacy, the Athletic Director.
Question and answer session
The questions were answered by Principal Thompson, unless otherwise noted.
Is there a privacy act with this?
"Couple things will happen. There will be three people [Johnny Thompson, Joe Serles, and Pat Lacy] who will be notified. It will not be kept on the regular discipline page of SIS that we do all the other discipline on. It will be kept in a separate folder that will be locked in my [Principle Johnny Thompson] office, and the only reason we will do that is so we know if we had an incident their freshmen year and then we have one their junior year, to see if it is their first or second offense. We will let the parents know. It will be a phone call to you with them present stating this is what we found, and then you come in and meet us. And at that time we will still not issue any consequences until we have made sure that there wasn't a reason for that."
Are your going to notify [the parents] even if our student is over 18?
"That would be up to them, because that is truly their right to do that."
Each student has three strikes throughout his or her entire high school career?
"Yes, we have had that in place for five or six years now, so that's nothing new."
Has ESS* [Employee Screening Services] been in business for a while?
"Yes. ESS is out of Springfield, but they have a satellite in Holt's Summit. They are doing South Callaway, North Callaway; there's about 45 schools that they do in the state of Missouri. So they're doing several of them. They have been doing schools for several years."
*NOTE: ESS is facility that will randomly select students for drug screening and perform the screening.
Are you searching the cars of people with parking permits?
"Nope, what we will do is strictly just 'do you have it in your system' or not. We will not target you as far as checking your car, checking your locker, checking your purse, that type of thing. What we want this to be is a way to help you and your parents if there's an issue."
Are you informing the kids about the policy?
"We will meet with [the students] next week. What we'll do is we'll bring in the freshmen class in and meet with them as a group and talk to them, because we want to talk to them about the consent form, because it's going to be up to them to get it back to us. They'll all get a copy of the policy... They'll be bringing one home with them and I'll be keeping a spreadsheet and checking them off."
At what point are you placing the students name and number on the container?
"When they come in there going to have a number. The way that this company is going to work is I will give every student a number, they will select 10 or 12 numbers at random and I'll take that number and match it with the number on my list, and see who that student is. And that's the only way there will be a correlation between the company and; well when they come here their going to come in and have that number, and their going to have to sign to substance control form. And that's so they can track me from here to the lab. Everybody does one of those, whether we send it to the lab or not that way there is no identification of the students that tested positive and who didn't test positive."
The number that [the student] is assigned is [theirs] for the whole time [they are] here?
"No, throughout this year. When new kids are added to the pool, they'll be added to the bottom that way when so and so has a number they will have that number all year. And so if their number gets picked every time they are just the lucky ones. Whereas if we bump kids around that's not fair because you adjusted your sequence. Well start all over next year because well go through the same process with the new rosters. We'll alphabetize, and add them to the bottom to try to keep them all the same would be hard to do because you have to drop all of your seniors out. Its all random, its computerized."
Who will select the numbers?
"[ESS is] going to pick them. We don't want to be involved in the [selection] process... We're not going to be part of the process except for going and getting the kids out of class and sitting them down in the nurses office. The way I planned this is we will schedule this with ESS and when they come we'll go get the kids."
Who will know the date?
"And that's why we don't tell anybody. You can tell the staff don't tell, but they talk and someone overhears something, we have a bad situation then."
If you see something suspicious can you bring the student in?
"If we have reason to believe we can, but I would rather involve you as a parent. Call you in and say something doesn't look right, or involve the nurse and have her do the eye reaction thing, but you have to be really careful cause then you get accusatory how do you know this type thing? But as far as if they're acting funny we'll get the nurse and then contact the parents."
Does this pertain to activities like dances and stuff?
"No, just the clubs. Because coming to the dance would be part of the education system, so we do not include dances. All we are doing is looking through the activities they are involved in."
Will every kid get done at least once?
"No, not necessarily."
Is there anyway that you can volunteer your kids?
"Yes, all you have to do is you sign the consent form and they sign the consent form."
No matter the age?
"This is just strictly high school right now. We are looking at starting this at the high school level, and feeding it down to the middle school."
If you have medications on file in the health department and still test positive, will you still notify the parents?
"The thing about it will be if this tests positive for someone, I'm not going to know if that is the medication that you have makes this positive result come back, so what this does is the Medical Review Officer can call the doctor to first of all verify the prescription, and then verify if the prescription can cause this test to test positive."
What do you do about kids that don't park in the parking lot, and don't participate in clubs?
"The Federal Government says that you can't do that because education is a right, and parking and clubs are a privilege. Unless there are suspicious activities."
Joe Serles added, "and to clarify too, if a student happens to be out and miss an assignment or something like that, we're going to make accommodations. No doubt there, if they have lost any instructional time we'll make that up."
How come you pull them all the students out together?
"Because if we go get one student out of this class and test them and send them back, and then we have to go get a student out of the same class... And that first kid says 'oh yeah, they're drug testing' and this other kid then high-tails it to the bathroom and then can't urinate when it comes time to test. So we'll just take them all at one time."
What if that kid is not there that day?
"Then he just misses out that day. We have an alternative list, that's another reason we don't want them to know because they just wont show up that day."
What is the testing process?
"This is the way it will work. We obviously do it in our nurses office that has a bathroom attached to it and a waiting room... The only kid that will be in the nurses office is the one being tested in the bathroom. The others will be waiting with their own labeled cup... The student will go into the bathroom, take care of his business, bring the cup back out, set it on the counter, they'll do the paperwork, they'll attach it to the cup, seal it, and it's going to go back. So it never at one time has it been out of the student's eyesight."
Will you notify the parents after their student has be tested?
"Afterwards, yes. Unless you request, and some parents have requested that they be informed prior to, and what we'll do is we'll try to notify you but I'm not going to sit on the phone and call, and call, and call... I'll call all the numbers I have, and I'll leave messages of course."
How long for the result?
"The dip test takes five minutes. And the positive will be shipped off to the lab, and I believe it's a day or two. If it comes back that there's marijuana in it there's nothing that we can do about that, that's a done deal, but if its something that it's a medication then we go through that process with the Medical Review Officer."
So all parents are notified if their child is tested?
So the dip test will be done on site?
What if there is a game that night?
"Nothing, we will not do any consequences until we have confirmation back from the lab that yes there is a positive... This may be a three or four day process, but our goal is not to say let's get this done, because we want it to be accurate."
Is one parent's signature ok?
If the kid is in a split family, will both parents be contacted?
"The kid will have to tell me that because I go by what's on our screen?"
If you have both parents in your database who will you call?
"I will ask the child 'who do you want me to call, mom or dad?'"