By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (July 25, 2016) — A drug testing policy may soon be in place for Stephenville High School students participating in extracurricular activities. High schools could use something similar to a 7 panel drug test to see if students have been using drugs. There are various home testing kits that are popular drug tests for teens that may be taken on by the high schools for their ease of use.
Stephenville ISD trustees once again discussed the possibility of drug testing during their regular meeting at Bond Auditorium Monday, deciding during the superintendent’s report to put both a public hearing and an action item concerning a drug testing policy on the August agenda.
“I think if we get something in place in August we can be ready to begin testing by October,” said SISD Superintendent Matt Underwood.
The August meeting is set for Monday, August 15, and begins at 5:30 p.m.
Trustees could not vote on the measure Monday because drug testing was not an action item on the agenda. Underwood said he would like for the board to hear from concerned parents and others before making a decision anyway.
“I don’t feel like we have received the type and quantity of information to make the appropriate decision,” said Underwood. “I think we should hold a public hearing so that we get more feedback from parents and others who may be concerned.”
One hot button topic of discussion has been who to test, and trustees seem to agree with Underwood that testing, if done, should begin at the high school level, only for students participating in extracurricular activities.
Another hot button topic has been what exactly to do when a student fails a test for the first time.
“I’m not in favor of first offense punishment. I prefer we try to communicate and fix the problem, not pull them out of extracurricular activities for a month,” said Underwood, who has previously suggested that not even the district should be informed after a failed first test, but rather the third-party testing provider communicate only with the parent or legal guardian concerning the failed test.
Underwood began the discussion suggesting the district spend the year developing protocol for drug testing that trustees felt comfortable standing behind then begin actual testing during the 2017-18 school year. His concern was not being ready to test until some sports are complete, and the testing policy appearing unfair.
Trustees, however, disagreed.
After board vice president Scott Osman voiced his belief that testing is valuable because it gives students “another reason to say no,” trustee Dr. Ed Dittfurth chimed in, saying, “I think we try to find middle ground and get it started.”
Underwood suggested subjecting all high school extracurricular participants to the first round of testing, making it fair for all affected students and establishing a baseline.
Underwood believed Stephenville may be among very few schools its size in Texas that do not currently have a drug testing policy in place, but quickly learned otherwise.
“There are five schools in our football district, and of the four other than us, two of them test and two don’t,” Underwood said.
However, many schools, even in the immediate area, do have a drug testing policy in current use, including Dublin, Comanche and Glen Rose. Dublin began testing in the late 1990s.
The drug testing subject first came up during a superintendent’s report in June, following a student survey that, among other things, asked students if they used drugs, if their friends used drugs and if they knew anyone who used drugs.