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Before a drug-testing program can be implemented at Marion County High School lots of questions need to be answered; the main one being who exactly is going to be drug-tested.
The Drug Testing Implementation Committee began discussing that very issue during its first meeting Thursday at the Marion County Board of Education. While some school districts only test athletes, other schools test all students involved in extra-curricular activities, as well as students who drive to school.
Dylan Tungate, a student representative on the committee, said singling out students involved in extra-curricular activities could make some students less likely to participate in those activities in the future.
Sallye Thompson, a teacher representative on the committee, agreed.
"We may be helping lead a child away from drugs but we may be pushing them away from the one good thing in their life," she said.
According to Stacey Hall, Marion County High School assistant principal and athletic director, approximately 70 percent of students at MCHS are involved in extra-curricular activities.
Hall questioned the committee about band students, and if they would be tested because band is a co-curricular activity. Students receive a grade for their participation in band. He also asked about middle school students who play high school sports. Would they also be tested?
To make it simpler, the consensus of the committee was that it might be best if all students at the high school were included in a random drug-testing program. But, Mike Cecil, the school board representative on the committee, would like to take that one step further.
"I'd like to see us drug-testing all employees in the school system," he said. "I think everybody in the system needs to do it."
According to Shelton Young, who represents the Marion County Heartland Safe Community Coalition, the $5,000 grant that the coalition received that will be paying for the drug-testing program is strictly for student drug-testing. If the school board decides it wants to also test employees, the board will have to pay for that. Currently, the only school employees who are drug-tested are bus drivers.
Tungate said he thought it was unfair to test he and his fellow classmates but not teachers and other school employees.
"How can you hold the students to a higher expectation than the teachers?" Tungate asked.
The Marion County High School site based decision-making council has also said it doesn't support a drug-testing program unless it also includes school employees.
"We do not feel it's fair to do something to our kids that we could not ask our teachers to do," Todd Spalding, SBDM member, told school board members during their March 22 meeting held at MCHS.
During that meeting, Board Chairman Michael Mullins said he would also have issues with a drug-testing program if it doesn't include teachers and staff.
A concern raised by Christina McRay, MCHS assistant principal, was who would actually administer the drug tests.
"Coming from a district who did drug-testing on an extensive level... I don't think it's a position you want to put principals or assistant principals in," she said. "It needs to be someone impartial."
(Before being hired at MCHS, McRay was employed at Bullitt Central High School.)
Interim Superintendent Steve Burkich said it was important for the committee to take all of these things into consideration before putting a drug-testing program in place.
"It's critical that you make the right decisions on the front end here," Burkich said.
Burkich said it would be wise to have some administrators from other schools that have drug-testing programs come speak at a future meeting to not only discuss the way their program is implemented, but also ask if they have data that shows drug-testing has been effective and if they would do anything different.
The committee plans to ask Troy Young, principal at Adair County High School (Shelton Young's son), Isaac Frye of Washington County High School and a representative from Nelson County's school district to attend the committee's next meeting and discuss their drug-testing policies with the committee. The committee's next meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., Thursday, April 14, at the Marion County Board of Education.
The members of the Drug Testing Implementation Committee are Assistant Superintendent Taylora Schlosser, Board member Mike Cecil, MCHS principals Chris Brady, Stacy Hall and Christina McRay, SBDM parent Cheryl Body, teachers Laurie Followell and Sallye Thompson, students Kyvin Goodin-Rogers and Dylan Tungate, MADD President Mimi Crum, school nurse Mickie Lee, transportation director Scott Spalding, NAACP President Jerry Evans and Marion County Heartland Safe Community Coalition members Elizabeth Creed and Shelton Young.