Public hearing on drug testing for EHS
Emery High held a public hearing to hear input on the proposed draft drug testing policy. Larry Davis, principal at Emery High welcomed everyone to the meeting and said for the past five years the school has been working vigorously on combatting drug problems within the school. They have dealt with drug related issues in sports, clubs and other school organizations. The school has talked with students in the learning strategies class about drug use.
Drugs are a growing problem. Efforts have intensified and one area now being considered is the random drug testing. Principal Davis said they will continue to do battle against drugs in the school with or without a policy.
Drugs have become more accessible and common in society as well as affordable. These changes in the drug culture are having a greater impact on students. Principal Davis said the school has looked at several options and they feel this is the next step that needs to be taken. They have been modeling the policy after the drug testingpolicy Davis School District has in place. They hope the policy will be meaningful to Emery High and help bring the drug problem under control.
Students were polled as well as parents and most voted in favor of a drug testing policy.
Principal Davis said the public hearing was being recorded and would be used to help shape the drug policy. The drug testing policy will be presented to the school board in January. He said he will take comments up until the Christmas break.
Principal Davis read emails from Tami Oliverson the swim coach and Nolan Johnson, the principal from Green River High. Oliverson spoke in favor of the drug testing. She supports drug testing for any extracurricular activity. Academics are the most important aspect of school and sports and extracurricular activities should be secondary. Drugs will not help anyone. Students should be taught other coping mechanisms for dealing with life's challenges. If kids have a problem, then maybe they won't participate in sports, but maybe they will get the help they need so they can participate.
Principal Johnson said Green River High is thinking of adopting a drug testing policy, too. They are very supportive of the effort and will help in anyway they can.
Principal Davis opened the meeting up to public comments. Wade Allinson said he supports the policy. He thinks it should extend to any extracurricular activity. When students travel to participate in drama or sports they are representing your school.
Shaun Bell from the Emery County Sheriff's Office said they strongly support drug testing and believe it will help deter use.
Jonathan Fauver said drug use is a major problem. Kids today are using more dangerous drugs. Kids are often unaware of the consequences they might suffer from taking drugs. Fauver said he talks with his children about drug use and they are aware of instances/parties where students are using drugs. It's a huge problem, I fully support the drug testing policy. With a first time offender they are sometimes just experimenting or succumbing to peer pressure. With a second violation, the student could be forming a dependency. With a first offense students could be given education about drugs and be taught coping skills. With a second offense, maybe the kids should be bumped up to the legal system. The child needs more help. Fauver said he thinks the testing policy should adhere to both sports and other activities. He said the policy needs to be enforced unilaterally and that the policy should be stipulated by the school and not a coach who may have concerns about losing a star player.
Fauver said addiction can become so severe that lives are lost and kids at this age can't see how becoming addicted to drugs can ruin their entire lives.
Jack Funk said he agrees that the testing should include more than sports. He knows of students throughout the state that are using performance enhancing drugs. The kids need someone to counsel them and teach them the real truth about drugs. Marijuana isn't harmless. The policy is really for the youth and for their good. In the real world, most jobs include drug testing.
The question of whether the high school rodeo club would be under the drug policy was raised and Principal Davis said it is a separate organization that would need its own policy.
Kylee Jensen the cheer coach spoke in favor of the drug testing. She said they have experienced problems with the cheer squad over the years. It's a safety issue, if someone is under the influence of drugs and performing stunts where someone might be hurt, then it's a real concern. The drug testing policy will be a good way to help keep kids off drugs and encourage those on the cheer squad to help other members be drug free.
Doug Mecham is the principal of San Rafael junior high. He said he's had his own children come through the school system and he told his son that plays sports that he had his permission to quit because of the problems some of the sports teams were having. "My kids go to these schools too, and I don't want kids there that are selling and using drugs. I would also like to see programs for alcohol and tobacco detection," said Mecham.
Todd Jeffs, the athletic director at Emery High spoke in favor of the policy. He said as things are now, it's only when a student is caught that the Utah High School Athletic Association rules can be enforced. The policy will help the students that are concerned about their status on a team. It will hold them to a higher standard as leaders in the school.
Students are required to have a physical to play sports so he views drug testing as an extension of that in making sure students are healthy and drug free. The drug policy includes a stipulation that if a coach has reasonable suspicion that an athlete is using drugs they can ask for a drug test.
Baseball coach and vice principal Steven Gordon said he supports the policy and believes it will help student athletes make better decisions. "I fully support it. It's a good thing to have in our school."
Kirk Christiansen the wrestling coach said he is also involved with the rodeo club and they have had discussions about a drug testing policy also. He thinks the new testing policy will give the coaches more of an opportunity to help kids who may be on the fence. Kids need to choose to be drug free. Wrestlers don't have much privacy anyway he said they submit to weight and body fat tests all the time and incorporating a drug test will be helpful in cleaning up the teams. Christiansen said he talked to the Altamont coach and after starting a drug testing program there the numbers initially went down, but are now back up again and the students encourage each other to stay drug free so they can participate.
Dr. Ron Sanders spoke in agreement with the policy saying he is in a drug-free profession in chiropractic and students need to make decisions that will keep them healthy and hopefully the policy will help reduce the problems that are occurring now.
Garrett Conover from the sheriff's office said they deal with drug problems on a daily basis and anything that can help is welcome to them. The policy will help the kids that sports is their life and if they couldn't play it would crush them. It will also help identify the kids that need some help so that help can be given.
Coach Kirk Robinson said he would like to see the drug testing policy extend into the junior highs. They had a problem this year and had to suspend someone for alcohol use.
Jerod Curtis from the sheriff's office said he has a student athlete and he sees the drug testing policy as a positive thing that will get students the help they need.
Fauver said if a student is dependent on a drug then they can't stop on their own. They need help. When a youth brain experiences drug use, the brain enjoys it. The use brings pleasure and at the time, there is no worry about what the consequences might be.
There will be some students that need help and treatment.
Proposed policy consequences could include: For a first offense the student will undergo a drug intervention assessment through Four Corners Behavioral Health. They will receive counseling. They will not be referred to juvenile court. They will be suspended from two consecutive games, meets, matches, events, competitions or performances. Practice may be continued following a personal assessment of the student by a licensed substance abuse intervention or treatment program and a clean drug test. A second offense would include a six week suspension and a third offense would be an 18 week suspension.
Four-five tests would be conducted each week. The students will be assigned a number and put in a pool. A drawing will be held and numbers selected. These students will be notified and tested. They will be required to provide a urine sample in a private stall. There will be an adult present outside of the stall.
Parents will need to sign a consent form for their student to be tested. Parents will be notified of any positive test results. Testing is estimated to be $10 and will test for 13 different substances.
An increase in the student participation fee will help cover the cost of testing. If a student refuses to take a drug test then it would be considered a positive test.
Numbers will go back into the pool and may be selected again. If a positive result is found in the off season for any student, the suspension will be when that season resumes. Drugs to be tested for include: methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, Benzodiazepine, methadone, barbiturates, oxycodone, morphine/opiates, etc.
It is believed the drug testing policy will give students a way to fight against negative peer pressure. They can tell other students they can't use or they won't be able to play sports or participate in activities and it will help them with peer pressure.
Principal Davis said the Buddy Box can be used for tips and anything reported is followed up and checked upon. Most students at the school are awesome, they are on time and respectful. They are engaged in activities. They want to get the most out of life. "We don't want negative influences at Emery High," said Principal Davis.
Principal Davis said they aren't law enforcement. They are educators and want the best for students. They want to know when kids need help so they can get them what they need and they might be saving that child's life. "We love all these kids. We are here to support them. We are here to help so the kids will have a chance at a quality life," said Principal Davis.
Principal Davis said the policy will be presented at the January 2014 school board meeting which will be held at Emery High.
The school board can approve or amend the policy as they determine. The policy will be sent to them well before the meeting so they will have time to review it.
Principal Davis said if anyone was unable to attend the meeting and would like to make a comment they can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments can be mailed to Emery High Box 499, Castle Dale, UT 84513.