US

Texas School District Will Test Students for Drugs

By Victor Westerkamp

A school district in Texas has announced that all students who want to participate in extracurricular activities or obtain a parking permit need to be regularly drug tested.

Students of the Bushland Independent School District in Amarillo, Texas, who only follow the academical program will not be involved.

The announcement was made in a letter to the parents of the 7 to 12 graders (pdf) which was also posted to the school’s website. It involves all school-sponsored extracurricular activities, like sports, drama, music, student council, robotics, and more.

The policy will take effect this coming year with the resumption of classes after the summer holidays.

“There isn’t an apparent drug problem,” district Assistant Superintendent Angie Watson said, “but that isn’t to say that kids across the nation are not being introduced to drugs and getting into drugs. We’re just trying to be proactive. We’re giving them a reason to not do that,” the Associated Press reported.

“This policy and the program that it supports are designed not for punitive measures, but to eliminate the potential threat to the student’s health and safety that can occur if students are using or under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs,” Superintendent Chris Wigington said in the letter.

But students who opt for the extracurricular activities, or those seeking a parking permit, will need to comply with the new policy. They will be tested at the beginning of the academic year, at the start of the second semester, and as many as ten times during random unannounced tests throughout the school year.

Students will need to fill out a form of consent before they can partake in any extracurricular course or activity.

A same-gender tester will do tests by taking either saliva or urine samples. In both cases, the student will need to submit the sample at a confidential location in the presence of the tester.

The samples will be tested for the presence of alcohol and illegal substances like marijuana, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and heroin.

The test result will be disclosed to the students, the parents, and a designated Bushland ISD agent only. Students who refuse to undergo a test will be marked as tested positive.

Students that have tested positive will get a second test the following day. Students that test positive on both tests will be banned from the activity.

“Positive drug test results will not be used to impose disciplinary sanctions or academic penalties,” it reads in the regulations (pdf).

This means the test results have no influence on the student’s academic grades or deny him or her any rights.

“These are extracurricular activities; they’re privileges, not rights. We don’t want to hurt a student academically, we don’t want to suspend them from school for testing positive for a drug,” Wigington told KVII.

Several school districts in Texas had drug testing policies enacted after a Supreme Court decision of 2002 that widened a school district’s eligibility to subject students to drug testing for extracurricular activities, which were previously only applicable to school athletes.