School Board approves policy for drug testing

Changes to regulations to be made prior to implementation Oct. 19

Posted: Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Juneau School District Board of Education unanimously approved a final mandatory drug- testing policy for high school student athletes at a special meeting Monday evening.

It also discussed drug-testing rules and regulations at length.

As per draft rules and regulations and board discussion, students may be tested for alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine, opiates, oxycodone, methamphetamine and steroids.

Alcohol and tobacco cutoff levels are not yet established. Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said he is working with medical professionals to determine appropriate maximum levels, which will be set prior to policy implementation. This is to avoid false positive testing for reasons like second-hand smoke inhalation.

The rules and regulations are the specific guidelines for implementing policy. Though the board has substantial input on the rules and regulations, it does not vote on them. Rules are finalized by the Juneau School District. Gelbrich said changes discussed at Monday's meeting would be made prior to the drug-testing policy's intended implementation date of Oct. 19, which is when the winter season starts.

The district's "intervention steps for drug/alcohol concerns" outlined four separate intervention methods. The first is an informal contact between a concerned school staff member or coach and parents or guardians. The second is a "suspicion-based" referral in which, depending on evidence of drug use, a school administrator may refer the student to a drug or alcohol counselor or school nurse and could take disciplinary measures.

The other two methods are the mandatory random drug testing for student athletes and voluntary random drug testing.

Students who choose to participate in voluntary random drug testing will be chosen in the same random manner as those in the mandatory program, but the two programs are completely distinct.

Activities for which random testing will be required are football, football cheerleading, hockey, cross country running, tennis, girls' volleyball, swimming/diving, wrestling, dance/drill team, boys basketball, girls basketball, basketball cheerleading, softball, baseball, track and field, boys soccer and girls soccer.

Fifteen percent of athletes from each school's individual sports program will be tested each week.

This means, for example, that 15 percent of all Juneau-Douglas High School female basketball players will be selected randomly each week. Fifteen percent of all Juneau-Douglas male basketball players also will each be selected randomly for testing.

Athletes who violate regulation requirements by not taking a test when randomly selected, violating testing protocols or testing positive for drugs must test negative at least one time prior to participating in future covered athletic activities.

Student athletes with a positive result will be suspended for the remainder of the current season, which they have the opportunity to appeal. Students will not be penalized academically for a positive result. Positive results will not be reported to law enforcement.

Voluntary random drug-testing results will be shared only with the student tested and his or her parent or guardian.

The school board also added an educational component to the policy, specifying that the superintendent will direct the education of students and parents and the training of staff in the program's operation and requirements, work with other agencies to improve local support systems for students who are identified through the program, and provide for the periodic assessment of the effectiveness of the program.

"Those things have been part of the proposal all along, but the board really wanted them in policy to show they're areas it's committed to," Gelbrich said.

After input from Teri Tibbett, representing the Juneau-Douglas High School Site Council, the board also amended the policy to include an evidence-based educational component in the schools on a frequent and recurring basis.

Three proposals have been received for testing. Gelbrich said he expected a proposal will be selected within the next few days. All proposals are within the annual budget of $212,000.

Gelbrich said information on drug testing would be made available to parents sometime between Oct. 12 and Oct. 16.

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