Oldham Schools To Expand Drug Testing

By mopsie · May 27, 2006 ·
  1. mopsie
    Plan Applies To Students In Any Extracurricular

    Oldham County students involved in any extracurricular activity will be subject to random drug testing beginning next year, under a policy change the school board adopted unanimously last night.

    It applies to students involved in clubs, academic teams and other activities approved by the district but not necessary to graduate.

    "It's a societal issue we have to deal with," Board Chairwoman Linda Theiss said.

    Random drug testing has been controversial in Oldham schools since the district began testing student athletes in 1998, but this latest change brought no public dissent.

    No parents have addressed the board since the plan was proposed last month, and board members passed it without discussion last night.

    Joyce Fletcher, the board's vice chairwoman, said random drug testing has become accepted by parents and students as "the way we conduct business in athletics."

    She added that some parents have expressed interest in making the random tests apply to the entire student body.

    But board attorney Anne Courtney Coorssen said that's not legal. She said schools could issue the random tests only to students involved in optional activities.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that random drug tests for student athletes were not a violation of students' rights. The court broadened the scope of that decision in 2002, when it upheld schools' right to test students involved in extracurricular activities.

    Since then, expanded random drug testing has become a trend in schools nationwide. More than two dozen districts in Kentucky have drug testing, whether it applies only to athletes, to students in extracurricular activities or to those who drive to school. For some districts, it's a combination of the three options.

    Oldham parents also can sign up their children for the testing pool.

    The only group Oldham schools aren't testing are student drivers, and Coorssen said that's only because the district doesn't have the money for it.

    Oldham schools have been paying for the testing out of the district's general fund to the tune of about $ annually over the past couple of years.

    The board moved to expand the tests this year because it's getting a federal grant that will pay $ annually if students in extracurricular activities are included. The grant is renewable after three years.

    Administrators estimate that the number of tests administered annually will increase from about 900 to 3,500 with the grant.

    A student asked to take the test must submit a urine sample, which is analyzed by BaptistWorx, an occupational health clinic affiliated with Baptist Hospital Northeast in La Grange.

    The samples are screened for substances that include marijuana, tobacco products, LSD and prescription medication. Next year the tests also will screen for ecstasy.

    source mapt usa

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