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October 22, 2013

City schools close to finalizing drug testing policy

Set to go before board for vote in December

The Cullman City Schools student drug testing policy is expected to go back before the board next month for a vote, after having some language clarified in the latest draft.

A small change was made to clarify the chain of custody for testing samples, and the new draft has since been sent back out to the Policy Review Committee, as is procedure. The chain of custody wasn’t as clearly defined in the original draft, so officials say they adjusted the language to provide a clear track for samples to be tested.

“We’re revisiting that policy to make a revision that we think will make it a little stronger,” school board member Suzanne Harbin said. “We hope this policy will work as a deterrent, more than anything. It isn’t meant to target anyone, it’s meant to deter our students from participating in something that’s not healthy, and we want them to be the best they can be.”

The student drug testing policy will be the first of its kind ever fully implemented for the system.

The policy applies to all students involved in extracurricular programs, and sets out three tiers of punishments for students who fail drug screenings, including community service and eventual dismissal from the applicable activity.

The policy guidelines state the initiative is a way to allow students to “demonstrate the character and leadership traits which they should possess.” The main objectives outline a need to maintain a drug-free campus, discourage drug use, reduce incidents of potential injury and protect the reputation of the school system.

The board plans to pilot the program this year, and eventually roll it out to all extracurricular next school year.

Drug tests will be given at random to students involved with extracurricular activities. A drug screening release form will now be required for students to participate in extracurriculars.

If a student fails one drug screening, he/she will be suspended from participation for 10 percent of the season; required to complete an alcohol/drug assessment program; required to complete 25 hours of school/community service and must receive a negative screening for readmittance.

If a student fails two drug screenings, he/she will be dismissed from competition for the remainder of the season; the student and parents must complete mandatory drug counseling; the student must complete 50 hours of community/school service; and must have a negative screening for readmittance.

If a student fails three drug screenings, he/she is suspended from participation indefinitely, or for a period of time determined by the administrator.

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