SALINEVILLE - Details of Southern Local's proposed drug testing policy were revealed in an informational meeting for the public hosted Wednesday night.
The meeting was held to gauge public opinion and gather feedback on the policy.
The lightly attended meeting was led by Superintendent John Wilson who presented a draft copy of the policy to the public. He opened his presentation by emphasizing that the policy is aimed at helping students who may be using drugs rather than punishing them.
"We want this policy to be about choices - giving kids an out," said Wilson. "And give them the proper tools they need and get them out of the situation they're in."
To start, Wilson touched on how the proposed policy would effect the current school policy. According to Wilson, there will be no "double jeopardy" scenarios with school policy and the drug testing policy. This means if a student tests positive they will be dealt with through the drug testing policy protocol only and not the district's policies on drug use.
"The drug testing policy will take care of itself as far as the stages and steps we'll provide," said Wilson
Although students will be barred from participating in an extracurricular activity for testing positive, their academic and behavior record will not reflect the positive test in any way, according to Wilson. Students cannot be expelled or suspend from school for testing positive.
The meeting also provided details on how drug testing will be carried out. "Team Testing" will be performed on all members of a given sports team during the first two weeks of their season. Team Tests will be carried out on district property or at a board approved testing facility such as a hospital or other medical facility.
Student athletes' parents must sign an "Informed Consent Agreement" prior to testing. After the initial team testing, there will be random testing of 20 percent of the team members at a time. Students who test positive in either the team or random testing may be subject to further testing throughout the season.
As for the urine sample collections, the draft policy revealed a detailed protocol in place to insure student privacy and prevent test tampering. Lab technicians and the students will be the only ones who witness the test according to the policy.
Lab technicians will stand outside a bathroom stall and listen for the "normal" sounds of urination. If students cannot provide a urine sample at the time of the test, they will be asked to start drinking water, pop, or juice.
Students who cannot produce a sample will be kept in a secure waiting area until they can test. If students leave the secure area, they will not be allowed to test. No purses, backpacks or other containers will be allowed inside the testing area.
Lab technicians will ask students to remove excess or baggy clothing. Tests that show signs of tampering will be considered the same as a positive test or refusal. The goal of this elaborate testing protocol is to prevent attempts to tamper with or adulterate tests according to Wilson.
Wilson addressed the consequences of a positive test. The building administrator will be informed of a student's positive test and in turn notify the parent or guardian of that student. Parents can elect to have the sample retested or appeal the results to the principal.
Students who test positive will be given the option of seeking drug counseling at their parent's expense or missing out on a portion of their sports or extracurricular activity season. Each consecutive positive test result will cause students to be excluded from their sport or activity for increasingly longer periods.
Students testing positive, no matter how many times, will have the option of making an appointment with a certified chemical dependency counselor and following the recommendation of counselor in order to be allowed to return to their activity.
At the recommendation of the counselor and after passing another drug test, the student will be allowed to return. Students also can opt to can sit out designated portion of their season instead of going to counseling.
Students who test positive the first time will be forced to sit out for the remainder or their extracurricular activity. Students testing positive twice will again have the option of meeting with a counselor or being excluded from the extracurricular activities for the remainder or that season and the entire school year.
Students who test positive twice will automatically be excluded from 20 percent of the sport or activity's remaining schedule. Students testing positive for a third time will be excluded from their activity for a calendar year. Students who test positive for a fourth time will be permanently banned from their activity. Violations are cumulative throughout the student's secondary school career. Even though testing begins at the seventh grade level, students get a clean slate when they begin high school.