School Board debates drug policy

Members weigh plan, zero-tolerance penalties

Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Juneau School Board continued to discuss details related to a mandatory drug-testing program for high school student athletes Tuesday at a special meeting.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

The program is expected to begin next month.

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich provided the board a first draft of the policy the district will likely implement with the program.

Board members asked a variety of questions about what would happen after a student tests positive for illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Among other procedures, the draft plan sets out policies having to do with students' rights to a re-test and appeal.

Board President Mark Choate said he would be unlikely to support the drug-testing policy as written because he also wants to see a new policy that tells coaches what to do if they suspect a player is doing drugs.

"We're missing big chunks of the plan," he told Gelbrich, referring to the draft policy. "What the coaches were saying is that we had reports that our athletes are having trouble (with drugs) and we had no tools to deal with that."

Choate said the suspicion-based policy in place didn't work and he wants to see something else.

The suspicion-based policy needs to be communicated better to coaches so they know how to use it, Assistant Superintendent Laury Scandling responded.

Other board members argued that the suspicion-based policy does not have to change before they vote on the mandatory random testing program.

The board is set to vote Oct. 5.

Less than 20 people attended Tuesday's meeting. Several parents and a coach weighed in on consequences handed down for a positive test.

The board has considered a zero-tolerance policy that expels an athlete from a sport season after a first offense.

One parent urged the board to consider allowing a student back into a sport if they earn the right to get back on the team. A second parent disagreed, saying the program is intended to be a deterrent and urging the board to stick with zero tolerance.

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