As quickly as the questions were asked, answers were provided Monday night at a public forum for a proposed random drug test effecting students in extracurricular activities in grades seven through 12.

Though no formal action was taken, the forum allowed community members and parents an opportunity to see the new proposal for consideration.

Members of Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) were present to field questions and provide more insight into the proposal which will be on the Nov. 17 CISD School Board agenda. If approved, the policy would be effective for the 2006-’07 school year.

Sam Thompson, Kerri Donica, Elizabeth Thompson, Jane Biltz and Jeff Schafer make up the members of SHAC.

CPD’s Schafer handled the majority of the presentation and was visibly passionate about what he was trying to get through to the crowd in attendance.

“We all know kids face different things than what we faced growing up ... but we have an opportunity that was not available when we were kids,” he said. “...This program will allow kids to have a new tool to say no to using drugs.”

The objectives are first and foremost to maintain student safety and provide a drug-free school environment. An opportunity to say no to drugs and alcohol, a deterrent to drug use, reducing the risk of injuries and ensuring that positive tested students obtain drug counseling and/or education are some of the objectives to having the random testing.

All students in extracurricular activities, under the new proposition, would sign and complete a consent agreement for drug testing. The form must also be signed by a parent or guardian.

Each month a minimum of 10 randomly selected students will be required to submit a sample of urine for testing in order to remain eligible for each activity.

The tests will be used to detect alcohol and most street drugs. Separate steroid testing is available as well.

If a test is positive, the student’s parents or guardian will be contacted and a conference with the CISD superintendent will be arranged within five days of the test result.

Consequences of a first offense include random follow-up tests during a 90 day period to avoid a second offense sanction. The student must successfully complete a district education program, or a comparable approved one within 45 days. Failure to complete the program will result in the student’s exclusion from the activity.

A second offense penalty includes a 14-day suspension from activities, an additional session of drug education and follow-up drug tests.

A third offense will suspend a student from all extracurricular activities for the remainder of the school year. If a football player is caught for the third time in October, he will be able to compete only in the following year if the conditions listed for the second offense as well as submitting a monthly sample for one year, and parents of the student must successfully complete a drug education class.

Schafer pointed out that there would be no academic consequences for a failure of a test, that it would strictly be relegated to extracurricular activities.

With a majority of students involved in one or more extracurricular activity, the testing would potentially effect more than just athletes.

Band, FFA, academic teams and clubs are all considered extracurricular activities.

If a student chooses to dispute the results, he or she must pay the $14 fee to re-test. If a student tests positive for steroids, the fee is $125 to re-test.

Sam Thompson, the CISD’s athletic director, estimated that 300 to 400 schools out of 1,000 had the program or a similar one in place.

The entire program will roughly cost between $3,000 to $3,500 a year and is primarily paid out of a general budget fund.

A lot of parents wanted stiffer penalties for first and second offenders, but there is a balancing act between helping and punishing students, Schafer said.

Director of Headstart Cindy White summed it up, calling the program “a good start.”

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A.J. Narasimhan can be reached via e-mail at ajn@corsicanadailysun.com

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