SELLERSBURG, IN (WAVE) - High school students in West Clark Community Schools who are involved in anything outside the classroom will be subject to random, quarterly drug testing due to a new policy.
The policy went into effect at the start of this school year, according to Tom Brillhart, assistant superintendent for the district.
A committee comprised of teachers, parents, administrators, students and a board member met in spring 2017 according to Brillhart. The group's only goal was “to investigate all the nuances that come along with the student drug testing program” and determine whether it was “worth the endeavor,” he said.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend a drug testing policy to the school board, according to Brillhart. The board approved the policy unanimously in February.
High school students at each campus who are involved in anything outside of school, be it an extracurricular, a co-curricular, field trips, prom or parking in the school parking lot, are subject to the random drug testing. Indiana Testing Institute handles the testing and screens for 10 drugs.
“The biggest benefit, and this was the conclusion that came out of the committee, it gives kids in the pool a reason to say no when they are put in that awkward position,” Brillhart said. “That's what our final conclusion was. Not that we don't think kids wouldn't have it in them to say no to begin with. This gives them a better reason, a default to lean on as far as being able to deny someone if offered a drug that's on the panel.”
At least one parent has an issue with program.
Morgan Keator, who has a daughter at Silver Creek High School, says he's not happy with the way parents and students found out about the screening, ambiguity around ramifications and that the school is drug-testing to begin with.
“It's been dealt with with zero compassion,” Keator said. “A school is a place where kids are supposed to feel safe … I can understand if a student is in possession, using, distributing it on school grounds. That is wrong. What a student does in their own time has nothing to do with the school.”
A sticking point for the parent: teachers are not subject to drug screening. “If they are really concerned with being done outside school property, they'll test teachers, too,” Keator said.
Brillhart admitted that some parents were unaware of the new procedure, but that wasn't by design.
“When something like this is rolled out we do our best to promote and put it out there. Unfortunately those lines of communication sometimes don't match,” Brillhart said. “That's not anyone's fault but it's the way it happens sometimes.”
West Clark is not alone in its drug testing of students: Clarksville Community School Corp. also does random testing and New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools Corp. and Greater Clark County Schools corporations do as well.
Ramifications for a positive test at West Clark are ambiguous. A section of the student handbook titled “Extracurricular/Co-curricular/Student Driver Random Drug Testing Program” points to board policy 5330, but the policy regards self-medication.
In policy 5530 “Drug Prevention and of the Student Code of Conduct/Student Discipline Code,” is referenced, but the policy is not included in the catalog of board policies. The student handbook stipulates that “a penalty consisting of suspension and/or possible expulsion is appropriate and may act as a deterrent for those students who choose to use alcohol or other illicit drugs at school or school-related functions/activities.”
The handbook does not include disciplinary measures for a positive test.