CAMDEN — The Preble Shawnee Local Board of Education is in the early stages of seeking information about the possibility of adopting a drug testing policy for its students beginning with the 2016-17 school year.
The board expressed interest in a meeting earlier this year and advised Superintendent David Ulrich to do research among area schools who may have such policies already in place.
At the board’s meeting on April 21, Ulrich presented the board with a number of policies from other districts for its review.
Ulrich also had the district’s legal representation prepare a draft of a drug testing policy as well.
Candi Turpin, president of the board of education, said the district is looking at implementing a voluntary urine drug testing policy for athletes and participants of extra-curriculars, as well as for driving privileges/obtaining a parking pass.
“What we need to discuss is, one, is this something we want to continue to pursue? Two, how? Three, what the consequences would be?” she said. “Tonight, this is just discussion.”
Turpin said she would like to have a draft for the public to review and entertain feedback.
Turpin said the way the current draft is presented, all student-athletes will be tested prior to each season.
“The way it is written it would be voluntary to play sports. They (students) would voluntarily sign the agreement to be drug tested, and their parents would have to sign as well, in order to play sports or to be in extra-curriculars or to receive a parking permit,” Turpin said.
Currently, Eaton Community Schools is the only school district in the county to implement a drug testing policy, which is done randomly.
“In the brief conversation I had with them they were fairly neutral in what they had to say (about their policy,)” Ulrich said. “I can understand that from their point of view because, even though they’ve had it for a few years, they don’t want to come out as pro or con on the topic.”
“In my view, I think this would be a deterrent. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think if the students knew that this policy was in place in order to be able to play, participate or drive, they will have to go through this,” Turpin said.
The testing would all be at the school district’s expense.
Board members Gary Rader and Jeff Wood said they would like more information on the topic.
“I would really want to talk to drug control experts,” Wood said. “More than just about punishing — to find out if it really is a deterrent. I just worry that we might be opening a Pandora’s box. I just want to be convinced that we won’t be doing more harm than good.”
“I just don’t know if we ought to be probation officers for the kids out there,” Rader said. “There’s a fine line.”
Board member Charlie Biggs said he doesn’t believe the school district’s main drug problem is within it athletes.
Rader said he feels the district currently has one of the strictest policies in the area. An athlete who is caught violating the current policy loses the current season he or she may be participating in, with no chance of returning until the next sport they participate in.
“We have the one strike and you’re out policy. Know one else has that right now,” Rader said. “I just know personally if I was in a sport and knew that if I got caught doing anything I wouldn’t have that privilege anymore.”
Wood said he would also like to hear from the student senate and class officers on the issue.
Turpin said if any community member is for or against a drug testing policy, they can contact a board member and let them know. Board member information can be found on the school district’s website.
In other business the board: