- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) - Leaders of the Cullman City Schools system say they’re taking a step back from implementing a random drug testing policy for high school students involved in extracurricular activities.

Officials held a series of public input meetings last week and heard concerns from parents who felt that certain students would be unfairly targeted by the proposal, and that it could lead to punitive measures.

“We can’t test all of them, by law, only the ones who are availing themselves of a ‘privilege,’” said Superintendent Doreen Griffeth. The policy would apply to students involved in extracurricular activities and those who drive to school. Under the proposal, punishments for students who fail drug tests could include community service and eventual dismissal from the extracurricular activity they’re involved in.

District officials have said the proposal is meant to deter students from using drugs and that law enforcement wouldn’t be involved.

“If there is a way we can prevent a child from losing their life to drugs, we want to do it,” said school board member Brenda Howell. “This would never bleed over into criminal acts or charges. The goal is to get them off drugs so they can be successful. Young people are impressionable, and I hope and pray we have no positive tests. But, if we do, I’ll be thankful if this policy helps get someone off drugs or prevented them from trying them,” she said.

Cullman Mental Health Director Chris Van Dyke said the testing policy could give officials a better idea of how many local students may be using drugs. He added that the policy should include counseling sessions for students who fail the tests so they have a chance to talk to someone about the potential ramifications of drug use.

“We would meet with the student about why they might be using and the history of that,” Van Dyke said, “Try to figure out what they might be dealing with to drive that, then determine a next step.”

The Cullman Times (https://bit.ly/1iZX6aM) reports that the district is planning an online poll to gather more feedback from parents before moving on with the plan.

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Information from: The Cullman Times, https://www.cullmantimes.com


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