Student drug-testing policy approved

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By Stevie Lowery

After more than a year of discussion, the Marion County Board of Education approved the student drug-testing policy during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, July 12.

And they did so, unanimously, with no discussion.

The dialogue concerning drug testing at Marion County High School began more than a year ago in April of 2010, when the Marion County Safe Community Coalition presented a proposal to the school board about beginning a drug-testing program at MCHS. The Heartland Coalition received a $5,000 grant to be used for drug testing, which it said it would give to the board if it approved a drug testing policy.

After months of meetings and further discussion, the board reviewed a version of a drug testing policy during a special-called meeting July 5.

The policy will require students who participate in extra-curricular activities at the high school level to be included in the pool of students eligible for testing. This policy applies to all students who choose to participate in Marion County High School extracurricular activities and those students who enroll voluntarily or are enrolled by their parents or guardians. 

For the purposes of drug testing, extra-curricular activities include participation in athletics, clubs and organizations and maintaining parking privileges through parking permits on school premises. This does not include co-curricular activities, which are required as part of a class. An example would be participation in marching band as part of a music class.

School board member Bernard Miles, who raised some concerns about the policy at the special called meeting July 5, was absent during the July 12 meeting when the board approved the policy.

The policy will go into effect this school year.

 Students who are enrolled in the drug-testing program and who are randomly selected will be tested for the following substances: alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, codeine/morphine, PCP, and other abused, illegal or banned substances.