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State schools share experiences on drug trests
Sunday, January 27, 2013
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
(Editor’s note This is the first in a series of stories about school systems that have dealt with drug testing of students in extra-curricular activities.)
As Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton and his staff research and develop a proposal for drug-testing students who participate in extracurricular activities, they may want to consider the examples of three other public school divisions in Virginia.
Salem City Schools has a random alcohol, tobacco and drug testing program for students in grades 7-12 who participate in school-sponsored sports and/or competitive Virginia High School League (VHSL) sanctioned extracurricular activities. Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools has a voluntary random student drug testing program available to all middle and high school students, but it is not linked to sports or extracurricular activities. Lynchburg City Public Schools tested high school student-athletes for alcohol and drug use from the 1990s until 2010-11, when it discontinued the testing for budgetary reasons.
At the Henry County School Board’s meeting Jan. 3, Ridgeway District board member Francis Zehr proposed that Cotton and his staff develop a drug testing policy for students taking part in extracurricular activities for the board’s consideration. The board approved Zehr's motion.
If approved, a policy would not be implemented until the 2013-14 school year, Zehr wrote in a memo to the board.
“Thank goodness we do not have a serious drug problem in the Henry County School System and by being proactive we can keep it that way,” the memo stated. “I think we can all agree that students participating in extracurricular activities is a privilege and not a right. Therefore, I believe drug testing should be a requirement for students to participate. If a student tests positive for an illegal drug, they naturally would be suspended from that activity. This policy would not be meant to punish students, but to help them solve their problem. Half the solution to any problem is to know what the problem is.”
Following is information on Salem City Schools’ program. Future articles will cover the programs in the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools and Lynchburg City Public Schools.