Is USD 408’s drug and alcohol policy fair?
School board members tried to answer that question Monday evening when the policy was reviewed for the coming school year.
Implemented in December 2002, the policy gives direction to administrators regarding students caught abusing alcohol or drugs, including tobacco.
In the 2008-09 school year, there were seven students who failed random drug testing, most being tobacco use. Random weekly drugs tests are given to athletes and other students involved in extracurricular activities.
The policy was designed to discourage students from using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Past issues have arose regarding photos of students drinking and those photos being posted on an Internet site; sometimes without the student’s knowledge or permission.
Board member Jan Helmer said she was concerned about students who are punished twice — by the school district and court system.
“Why is it the school’s job to double jeopardize someone in the court system?” Helmer asked. “They are already being dealt with by the court system. I’m not sure if the school system should deal with things off school property.”
Middle School Principal Tod Gordon said that without a policy, schools would follow Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines, which require student athletes to be in “good standing” to participate.
“With or without the policy, you have to address the situation,” Gordon said.
Board member Keith Collett said it wasn’t fair to “run a Wednesday test, catch somebody, and they’re eventually off the football team but others are violating the law on weekends and are allowed to stay on the team.”
“Sports and extracurricular activities are a privilege not a requirement,” Board President Chris Sprowls said. “Extracurricular activities too often dominate everything. We need to have it as an incentive not to do that (drugs and alcohol).”
Helmer agreed but said she wants to be fair to everyone.
Drug testing came about in part because of a safety issue, Gordon said, with some football players were taking illegal drugs to perform better.
“Drug tests are positive or negative, but with a picture you don’t know the story,” board member Kathy Meierhoff said.
It was emphasized that drug testing rarely came back positive.
“This district is taking a more pro-active stance than other districts,” Superintendent Lee Leiker said. “We tell our legal system, ‘Bring in the dog any time’. We openly say, ‘We want to have a drug-free district’ and we do things other districts don’t do.”
No changes to the policy were proposed.