Clinton schools may enforce drug tests - - The News for South Mississippi

Clinton schools may enforce drug tests

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The proposed policy covers all sports and activities regulated by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, as well as choirs, student government and honor societies in grades 7-12. The proposed policy covers all sports and activities regulated by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, as well as choirs, student government and honor societies in grades 7-12.


Clinton High School and Junior High students who participate in sports and extracurricular activities could find themselves being tested on a whole new level next school year.

"There are students, I think that maybe possibly, could be using some drugs and maybe weekends and we don't really know the effect that those drugs have on play," said Dr. Phil Burchfield, Clinton Public School District Superintendent.

The district first started discussing a drug and alcohol testing program a year ago. Now, they've presented a proposal to the board.

"Our biggest concern is that we wanted it to be fair and consistent, not only among individuals but across sports lines as well," explained Burchfield.

Because each activity has varying amounts of competitions or meetings, the school would use percentages. On the first violation, for example, the student would have to sit out for 25 percent of the remaining competitions. That would carry over into the next school year if necessary.

"Once a student tests positively then he will be tested every month, won't be randomly. He will be tested every month until he's clear," said Burchfield.

Athletes parents are ready to see the new program implemented.

"It's not a new problem. It's just an old problem that's being addressed right now," said basketball parent Vickie Lewis.

While Lewis thinks the policy is a good idea, she has mixed feelings over the specifics.

"I think a random drug test should be a random drug test. Not picking out just the athletes but if you're going to drug test in the school system, just randomly drug test," she said.

The school board is scheduled to meet on May 14 and they will vote on the policy proposal at that time. If passed, it will go into effect in August.


From Clinton Public School District

CLINTON, MS - The Clinton School Board is considering a policy that would require random drug testing of students involved in athletics and most extracurricular activities.

"This is something we're doing as a deterrent," said Dr. Clay Norton, athletic director. "We already have policies to address drug use on campus, but we want to give students more incentive not to use illegal drugs at all, anywhere."

The Board reviewed a draft of the policy at its regular April meeting. It will revisit the policy again in May.

"We looked at other school districts' policies as well as policies in place at colleges and universities," said Norton, who compiled the policy. "We also spoke with Clinton Junior High, Sumner Hill and Clinton High School. Each school formed a committee of coaches, sponsors and others involved in student extracurricular activities."

The proposed policy covers all sports and activities regulated by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, as well as choirs, student government and honor societies in grades 7-12. For junior high and high school students to participate in these things, Norton said, the policy would require that they submit to random drug testing.

The consequences of testing positive are based on percentages, so that punishment is equitable across the different sports and activities.

"On the first violation, the student would be suspended immediately from participating in the sport or activity in which they are currently participating for a minimum 25 percent of the total events for that season," Norton said. "If their season is over for the year, the punishment would carry over to the next academic year."

For instance, the cross country team has 12 competitions in its season, so a student testing positive would be suspended immediately for the next three cross country meets.

If a student tests positive, Norton said, parents will be notified and counseling services will be recommended.

Students who test positive would also be required to submit to periodic, unannounced re-tests each month for nine months. Refusal to submit to drug testing would be viewed as an automatic positive.

"On second violation the student would be suspended immediately for 50 percent of competitions or performances," Norton said.

A third violation would result in the student being suspended from activities for a full calendar year, and upon a fourth violation, the student would be permanently barred from participating in sports or activities in the Clinton Public School District.

The number of competitions and performances per sport or activity would be re-evaluated at the beginning of every year once each sport or activity released its schedule. Once the number of competitions and performances is determined, the appropriate number of suspensions will be determined based on percentages.

Violations would be cumulative, he added. A student who tested positive in junior high, for example, would be cited with a second violation if he or she tested positive again throughout junior high and high school.

For student leadership organizations, including student council and National Honor Society, a positive drug test would mean automatic dismissal.

Since CPSD currently contracts with MEA for drug testing services, MEA would likely be the vendor to conduct student drug tests. The student tests would be done by urinalysis.

The testing done by MEA registers common substances, including methamphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and opiates, and also an exhaustive list of less well-known substances. It also detects adulterants — substances that people use to mask drug use.

"There is ‘stuff' that users can take to help make a test negative by cleansing their system," he said. "If adulterants are present, it is reported to us as having something in the specimen that is not consistent with normal human urine. This can flag a sample for additional testing."

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