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November 29, 2013

City schools expand proposed student drug testing policy

CULLMAN — Cullman city school officials have expanded the latest draft of the new student drug testing policy, adding middle school student-athletes and any students who drive to campus to those who could be tested for illegal drugs.

The initial draft already included all high school student-athletes, along with members of any academic teams or extracurricular activities.

“We made it not just for the high school, but for all of Cullman City, to include any students in extracurriculars or that drive to school,” Superintendent Dr. Doreen Griffeth said.

The new draft also removes language that explicitly says how the system will administer the tests, and officials say that change was made to give the system more leeway to use different testing methods in the future.

“The only other real change was exactly how we do it, because now we could do urine, a swab, or hair sample,” Griffeth said. “This way, it frees us up to take the best bid for the service.”

A previous draft also updated the chain of command for drug tests, which sets aside a confidential number to identify the student. It also required any student being tested to empty his/her pockets and leave any bag in the possession of a school official during the test.

The policy applies to all students involved in extracurricular programs or who drive to school, 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. The latest draft has been sent out to the policy review committee, and could be approved next month.

Drug tests will be given at random to students involved with extracurricular activities or who drive to school. A drug screening release form will now be required for students who wish to do either.

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.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.

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