“After much thought and conversation, we decided to quit that and stop that practice, so the youngsters who would be tested would be only those who were randomly selected,” Cox said.
Superintendent Lu Young said picking and choosing those who would be drug-tested put the district on a “slippery constitutional slope” and that they had two options — test randomly or test everybody.
“If random is letting kids (use drugs and avoid suspension), then they’re just gaming the system once again,” Bandy said.
Bandy said she was not in favor of expanded drug testing for drivers.
Several board members voiced interest in mandatory drug-testing for all athletes each month their sport is in season. Young said that option was viable but would be costly, as the kits cost $15 to $25 each and there are nearly 300 student-athletes in fall sports who would have to be tested at least three times each — a cost of at least $13,000 just for the fall.
“To me, it’s worth spending the funds to save a kid’s live, and that’s how I’m looking at it, or to save a kid from the next thing that they’re going to do,” board member Fran Settle said. “If we save them from going down that path, as a school, we’ve done our job; that’s our part of protecting our kids.”
Apart from the random testing, the schools currently have other avenues to take with athletes whom coaches or teachers suspect are using drugs, Young said, starting with meeting with parents and the school guidance counselor.
“If a coach or an adult in our system knows that a student is using drugs, then we would want them to go — just like a classroom teacher — through the appropriate channels to make sure the student gets some help,” she said.
Young said she would consult with board attorney Howard Downing about the legal side of mandatory testing for all in-season student-athletes.
“We’ll also have to do some budget-carving, because you’ve significantly increased the expense,” she said. “We can bring you back those recommendations.”
In 2011-2012, drug testing was done seven times at East High, five times at West High, five times at East Middle, four times at West Middle and seven times at Providence. When testing is done, names are pulled randomly from the pool of drivers and student-athletes — 10 names for each testing at the middle schools and 20 for each testing at the high schools.
The drug-testing results for 2011-2012 showed 18 non-negative tests at the high schools — the most in the past five years of testing — and two non-negatives at the middle schools.
Non-negative test results are sent for confirmation. Nine came back positive for marijuana; eight came back positive for amphetamines; one came back positive for opiates; and two came back positive for PCP.