- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) - The Ocean Springs School District is developing two random drug testing policies beginning this fall.

One policy would cover middle school and high school students who participate in extracurricular activities, apply for a parking permit to drive to and from the high school or who enroll in driver’s education classes.

The other policy would apply to the entire student body and allow for drug testing if “reasonable suspicion” exists to administer the test and if a parental consent form has been signed.

Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter tells The Mississippi Press (https://bit.ly/1drjeVJ ) that the two policies are both intended to offer help to students with a drug problem and are heavy in provisions for early detection and treatment.

“We did not want these policies to be punitive. We want to help our kids.

“I’ve heard or read people saying it’s none of the school district’s business,” Coleman-Potter said. “But we’re trying to provide a safe environment for all our kids.”

Coleman-Potter said the school board won’t act on the policies until at least March to allow time for public input and tweaking of the policies.

“Most school districts have been doing this for years,” Coleman-Potter said. “This is not new. It’s just new to us.”

For students in extracurricular activities who fail a test and the mandatory “confirmation test” administered immediately after, the penalty is 30 days suspension from those activities while the student undergoes treatment and/or counseling.

After 30 days, if the student passes a drug test, they would be allowed to return to their activity. No school punishment such as suspension or expulsion is included in either policy.

The policy for the general student body allows for administrators to determine discipline based on factors such as prior violations, other discipline issues, among others.

Students participating in extracurricular activities and their parents will be required to sign a consent form allowing for drug testing as a prerequisite for participation. If no consent form is signed, the student is ineligible.

For the remainder of the student body, if no consent form is signed and reasonable suspicion exists that the student is using drugs, administrators are required to notify a parent or guardian within two hours.

If no consent is given after two hours, administrators may impose discipline based on the reasonable suspicion and recommend counseling and/or treatment.


Information from: The Mississippi Press, https://www.gulflive.com

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