High School Drug Testing Program Going Well
By Mike Scott
With a full semester of random student drug testing behind him, Clark County High School principal Jason Harper believes the program is working well.
“We’ve had five tests thus far, and the process has worked out very well,” Harper said.
High school students who are involved in non-graded extracurricular activities, including sports and club activities, are subject to random tests.
About a week before each test, the school provides a list of eligible students, the testing pool, to Seglin, the company which administers the tests. Eligible students are those participating in non-graded extracurricular activities during that season. For example, in the fall, the testing pool includes football, softball and cross country, cheerleading, FFA trap shooting , class officers, FCA, and student council.
Names are assigned a number by Seglin, and a computer picks the students to be tested. A percentage of the eligible students are tested. In the fall season, approximately 20 students per month were tested.
When the day of the test arrives, the Seglin representative arrives with the list of students to be tested.
“We do not see that list until he arrives,” Harper said.
“We start at the top of the list. If a student is absent that day, we go to the next one down. ?Right now (winter season) we’re doing the first 11 kids on the list.”
Students are called to the office, and one at a time give their sample in a private bathroom.
Samples are tested on-site, so the school knows before they leave whether their is a field positive test.
In the event of a field positive, the sample is taken to Seglin’s lab for further testing. A negative test receives no further testing.
“If we have a field positive, Mr. Church or myself will notify the student and their family. The student does not lose any privileges at that time unless and until a lab confirms the positive test. Lab tests take a couple days.
“We do not perceive them being guilt from just the field test,” Harper said.
The school’s drug policy is reviewed with the student, and the penalties are explained.
A first offense will result in a 30-day suspension from activities, however, attending practice is permitted. A second offense would trigger a 365-day activity suspension, including practices. A third offense would result in a permanent suspension from activities.
“We have had a couple students that have had field positives, and both of those have NOT ended with a lab positive,” Harper said. “We have not had a single lab positive test since the beginning. That’s great.”
Prior the board’s decision to implement the testing policy last year, Harper had stated that the school had a drug problem.
“I don’t know if its the testing policy itself. But if they are really highly involved in their activities, peer pressure is a very big motivator. It gives them a sufficient out to not have to say yes if it is offered. I think there a lot of fence riders, and this gives them a great reason to say no,” Harper said.
Many people would prefer that the district cast a wider net and test the entire student body, but Missouri court’s haven’t ruled on the legality of that, and Clark County doesn’t want to be the test case.
“‘I’d rather be able to help some of our students than none of them at all,” Harper said.
Is it working?
“In talking to veteran staff members, they think the culture has changed for the better this year. I’m not going to say it’s because we have a testing policy, bet we have seen improvement in that area,” he said.
“I’d love it if we went the entire year without a positive test,” he said.