THAYER -- Students in grades 7-12 in the Thayer School District who will be participating in extracurricular and co-curricular activities may be subject to random drug testing starting next school year.
Thayer High School Principal Kevin Hedden said the Thayer School Board will vote on the issue at the June school board meeting.
Hedden said the school board, staff and administration at the school see participation in school sponsored extracurricular and co-curricular activities at the school as a privilege. "Students in these activities carry a responsibility to themselves, their fellow students, their parents and/or guardians and their school to set the highest possible example of conduct, which includes avoiding the use of illegal drugs," Hedden said.
A recently released statement from the school district addressing the possible new policy states: "The Thayer R-2 Board of Education recognizes that drug use is one of the most serious problems confronting schools and communities. In an effort to protect the health, safety and well being of its students from illegal drug use and abuse or injuries resulting from the use of drugs, the Thayer R-2 School District, (if the school board should vote to do so) adopts the following policy for drug testing of students participating in these activities in grades 7-12."
Hedden made clear some of the terms used in the policy such as extracurricular and co-curricular. "An extracurricular activity takes place outside the regular course of school study. Co-curricular activities are activities students participate in outside of the classroom as a result of being enrolled in a school-offered class," he said.
The principal said prohibited activities include the possession, sale, distribution or solicitation of alcohol, drugs, unauthorized prescription or non-prescription drugs, drug-related paraphernalia, narcotics substances, marijuana or other intoxicants and any other substances which an individual may not sell, possess, use, distribute, or purchase under either federal or Missouri law.
"Students who participate in these extra activities will be required to turn in a consent form signed by them and their parents or guardians before they will be allowed to participate in the activities. On a random selection basis during the regular school year, 10 students will be chosen approximately every month from a list of all students participating in the extra activities," Hedden said. He said students would also be tested if there was reasonable suspicion of drug use.
The principal said if a student should test positive for illegal drugs, the laboratory that did the test will contact the student's parents and solicit any information about medication which would create a positive test. "A medical review officer will confirm the positive result and contact the principal (me) with results. Once a positive test is determined, the student will become ineligible to practice, compete or participate in any extra activity," he said. Hedden said the student then will have the opportunity to appeal the result of the drug test.
He said for a first offense the student will be suspended from all extra activities for 28 days. "The suspension will be reduced to 10 calendar days if the student shows proof of receiving drug counseling and agrees to a second drug test."Hedden said if a student tests positive a second time, the student will be suspended from extra activities for another 28 days and must complete four hours of substance abuse counseling and must submit to a monthly drug test for three consecutive months.
"If a student should be convicted of a third offense they will be suspended from all extra activities for the remainder of the school year or 88 days, whichever is longer," the principal said. Hedden said he thinks this procedure will become more common in schools in the area in the near future.
The principal said presently the school districts of Cabool and Sparta, also in southern Missouri, have initiated similar policies to the one Thayer is looking at.