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Drug Testing News

Marshfield School Board keeps drug-testing program


9/16/03
By: Michelle Davidson, KY3 News

MARSHFIELD, Mo. -- The Marshfield School Board got an earful on Monday night about its new policy of randomly testing some students for drugs. Speakers on both sides of the issue laid out their positions.

It's not just the athletes who face drug testing to stay in the game. Junior high and high school students who participate in band and other extracurricular activities also can be randomly tested.

The school board approved the new drug testing during the summer. The deadline has passed now for parents of Marshfield students to check either yes or no to let school officials randomly test their children. Only students whose parents approved the tests may participate in extracurricular activities.

"These programs are being held hostage to get us to consent to this form," said Don Sparks, a father who believes it's an unfair policy.

Sparks believes drug testing is not a job for schools.

"I am for parent involvement. I think it's up to parents to have drug testing or not," he said.

Sparks was one of those who spoke against the policy at the school board meeting on Monday.

"Just because I don't want my daughter to take a drug test doesn't mean she shouldn't get to perform in the band,” he said.

Others disagreed. They hope the drug testing will curb the use of illegal substances.

"It gives kids an out,” said Melody Day, another parent. “When they're at a party on the weekend, they don't have to do it, because there is a possibility they may be tested next week."

After the U.S. Supreme Court permitted the screenings, many schools in the Ozarks are testing students who participate. Marshfield High School has 82 percent of its students and their parents who agreed to the random drug tests.

"When I talked to my kids at home and parents -- yes, Marshfield needs this in their school," said Day.

High school Principal Jan Hibbs says, while screenings have not begun, the policy has already made a difference.

"I feel like we owe it to our student body population and community to say no," said Hibbs.

School officials will test students involved in sports, band, and other activities every two weeks during the school year. Ten high school students, two junior high students and one teacher will be asked, at random, to submit samples for testing.

A recent national study found school drug testing does not deter drug use. The study involved 76,000 students nationwide but Marshfield school officials hope it will work for them. The school board didn't take any action to change the policy.