Gulfport School District Adopts Drug Testing Policy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/14/03

Gulfport School District Adopts Drug Testing Policy

Students have worked hard to join the "Madrigal" musical ensemble at Gulfport High School. Angelina Davis is a member of the group.

"I wanted to grow in my musical career, so I came to Gulfport High and joined the Madrigals and all their musical groups here," Davis said.

School leaders don't want drugs to spoil all this harmony. Bryan Caldwell is the Drug Testing Coordinator for the Gulfport School District.

"We don't think we have a severe problem, but any problem is too much when you're talking about youngsters and drugs. Some of our surveys that we had given the students told us there was drugs in the community and in our student body and we just decided it was time to take action," Caldwell said.

The Gulfport School District wants to slam-dunk drugs. The district is implementing a random drug testing policy that could affect up to 700-students involved in co-curricular or extra-curricular activities.

Many students think the policy will work, because those who test positive could be bounced off the team or club.

Lamar Nance is a member of the Gulfport High basketball team.

"These guys out here, they love basketball. They're like me, so they don't want to jeopardize that," Nance said.

"They want to be a part of these groups because their friends are a part of these groups, so I don't think they would chance that of using drugs and getting out of groups like this," Davis said.

The policy's goal is not to punish students.

"We're not out to try to bust people so to speak. It's an effort to get them help when they need it and more than anything an opportunity to say "no". A first positive test will result in a 10 day suspension from that activity. During that time, the student will receive counseling and some help to get them through this ordeal," Caldwell said.

The Gulfport School District has hired a private company to test students for five types of drugs. Three times a year, 100 students will be chosen randomly to take a urine test. On Monday, the Long Beach School District also adopted a random drug testing policy.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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