Sharyland ISD proposes random drug testing on students

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POSTED: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 4:20pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 7:24am

One Valley school district is close to approving a random drug test program for its students.

Sharyland ISD is having a board meeting tonight to discuss a proposal for random drug and alcohol testing on students in extracurricular activities. Parents voiced their opinions last night at a public forum and spoke in favor of the drug testing policy.

Screenings would affect students in grades seven through 12, and only those who participate in any extracurricular activity, ranging from athletics to debate club. An estimated 3,500 students in those grades are involved in extracurricular activities, which makes up for about 70 percent of students in 7th through 12th grade.

Superintendent Virginia Richter said implementing this policy would be for the sake of the students' safety and well-being, and that the random drug tests would aim to deter substance abuse by students.

Most importantly, Richter stresses that this program is not meant to seem like a "gotcha!" initiative; rather, she hopes that the random drug testing will give students leverage against peer pressure. The main goal of the drug testing policy is to help students deal with substance abuse. Any student who tests positive on their first screening could face a mandatory 40-day drug and alcohol counseling program within the district. Other consequences for positive tests are still being determined.

If the proposal gets passed, Sharyland would join just two other school districts in the Rio Grande Valley that already have drug and alcohol testing--Roma and Lyford school districts both have successful policies, according to Richter.

Parents, or students over the age of 18, would sign a consent form to allow testing or forfeit their involvement in extracurricular activities at Sharyland ISD.

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