New drug testing policy takes effect in Ocean Springs schools

The new policy affects students who participate in extracurricular activities. (Photo source: WLOX)
The new policy affects students who participate in extracurricular activities. (Photo source: WLOX)
Coleman-Potter said the policy has not affected student participation in clubs or other activities this year. (Photo source: WLOX)
Coleman-Potter said the policy has not affected student participation in clubs or other activities this year. (Photo source: WLOX)

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of students at Ocean Springs Middle and High Schools better steer clear of drugs. Random drug testing is set to start next month. The district's first drug testing policy officially takes effect this school year.

The new policy affects students who participate in extracurricular activities. That includes those who join sports, clubs and bands, as well as students who want to drive to school or attend prom and homecoming dances.

The superintendent called it a two-prong policy. One is reasonable suspicion.

"If we actually have evidence to prove or to believe that you're under the influence of drugs, there's an immediate testing protocol. The other prong of the policy is called random selection, where students and their parents have already consented to be randomly selected for drug testing," said Ocean Springs Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter.

The district has contracted with a private company to conduct the testing on campus and certify the results. Students selected can either provide urine or a hair sample.

Those who test positive for drugs would have to go through a drug treatment program. They can get their privileges back if they pass another drug test.

"It's not meant to be a disciplinary policy. We're trying to make sure that we provide the deterrent for children to say no to drugs, because they want to be able to participate in extracurricular activities," said Coleman-Potter.

Students who are on prescription medication only need to provide documentation to the medical officer.

Coleman-Potter said the policy has not affected student participation in clubs or other activities this year. She said more than 970 students at the high school and more than 700 students at the middle school have signed up to be randomly tested, with their parents' consent. She expects those numbers to rise as more events and programs become available.

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