Ozark Schools Consider Drug Testing
Missouri’s Ozark School District is in talks to jump on the student drug testing bandwagon, according to Superintendent Kevin Patterson. “We are in the planning stages right now and we are in the information-gathering stage,” he said.
As one of the few remaining districts in the area without a plan of attack to hinder the relationship between teen and drugs, district officials felt it was time to venture into uncharted waters. Dr. Curtis Chesick of the Ozark School District said of the decision to seriously consider implementing a solid student drug testing protocol, “When we did research with COC schools, we found we are one of the last that doesn’t have a policy of some sort in place as of yet.”
That’s going to change now, as the district is in talks to institute its own drug testing policy. Chesick says, “It gives students an opportunity to say no if they’re out after a ball game on Friday night and someone presents them with an opportunity they know they shouldn’t be doing. It will alleviate some peer pressure because they have an out by saying, ‘no,’ I may be randomly drug tested and that will not only effect my high school career, but could cost me scholarship dollars toward my college as well.”
Policy Details To Be Determined
The discussions surrounding the implementation of a policy allowing schools to conduct random urine drug tests on students is still in the early stages, but the district means business and is expected to make a decision in the spring if all goes as planned. Some of the talking points that will be reviewed over the coming months are:
- What grades will be tested? There hasn’t been a decision made to determine if junior high students will be included in the policy or if it will only apply to those in high school.
- Who will be tested? Initial reports suggest that athletes will be tested. There is also a good chance students involved in school related activities and/or those wishing to park on campus will on the testing list.
- What determines who will be tested and when? The decision will ultimately be left in the hands of school administrators, however, a definitive selection process has yet to be ironed out.
- How advanced will the tests be? This is a particularly important question as the answer will likely depend upon the cost expected to be incurred by the district. It’s a hard decision to make as each test from the 5 panel urine drug test to the 14 panel urine drug test the has it’s own specific panel of drugs detecting abilities that may or may not include the particular substance used by the student being tested.
Positive Tests Don’t Mean Punishment
The intent of the school district is not to punish students engaging in risky drug use, though. Instead, Chesick says it’s designed to “give the students what they need to succeed in life. Many jobs have similar requirements and we want to give them the tools to become better athletes – but more importantly, better students.”
If a student does test positive for illegal or controlled substances without a prescription, the district intends to submit the same sample for testing again to ensure the initial results were accurate. The student will then be immediately suspended from participating in any school sports and related activities for a period of 30 days. A positive drug test does not grant the student a get out of school free card by way of suspension, though. Instead, the district intends to support the student in their attempts at recovery.
“We want to make sure we provide an opportunity for students to seek counseling for substance abuse,” Chesick said. “If they do that, we want to make sure they have an opportunity to have a reduced suspension, perhaps 15 days instead of 30.”
Parental Support of Student Drug Testing
The district isn’t discounting the opinions of students and parents in regard to the potential policy as meetings are reportedly planned to discuss the details and receive feedback. Many Ozark parents are said to be in favor of students being drug tested, but there are some not to keen on the idea, according to KSPR News.
Trish Bertrand has two daughters attending Ozark High School, both of whom will be subject to testing. She told KSPR News, “They’re not going to see the threat in that. It’s not going to be a deterrent because a kid that’s going to use drugs is going to use drugs. So, it’s not going to stop anyone from starting, however, it’s going to increase the harm because they’re going to go to the drugs that are easily bypassed by the drug screen.”
Parents in the Ozark area may not be content to wait for the school district to implement the drug testing policy in the spring given the ever increasing rate of teen drug use in the nation. There’s a solution, though, and all it takes is a short trip to one of the labs in your area that can be found by entering your zip code below: