Rock Hill School District 3 Discuss Implementing the Drug Test Policy

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Rock Hill School District 3 Discuss Implementing the Drug Test Policy

Kinsley Thurston, Convergence Media Editor

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Associate Superintendent Dr. Luanne Kokolis held a meeting at South Pointe High School on Tuesday, Jan. 30 to discuss the proposal to begin a random drug-testing program for Rock Hill District 3 High School athletes and students who drive. Kokolis wanted to receive input from each of the three high school’s Student Improvement Councils, booster clubs and Student Government officers regarding this policy. She met with the other high schools’ representatives on their campuses on different dates.

Luanne Kokolis talks to Student Improvement Council President Rebecca Gilleland after the meeting.

According to the draft of the Random Drug and Alcohol Testing of Student Athletes and Student Drivers policy, the Rock Hill School District strongly believes that drug use and substance abuse can be detrimental to the physical and emotional health and the academic performance of its students.

The district hopes to educate students about the dangers and problems associated with drug use and to deter drug use by students.

The draft of the administrative rule states that all eligible students in grades 7-12 who desire to participate in interscholastic athletics or campus-parking privileges must agree to participate in the random drug-testing program.

“The district has been investigating and researching policies regarding random drug testing for two years,” said Kokolis.

According to Kokolis, Beaufort County Schools test 20% of their athletes, drivers, and students in extracurricular activities. They test every month except for December and May. Beaufort has seen a decline in positive test results with 3-4% of the students tested receiving positive test results. They test approximately 250 students each month.

However, in Clover, they test only athletes. Clover’s policy was established due to concern from parents who indicated a safety issue for students at practice that were under the influence. They have had very few positive test results in the past two years and see the random drug testing as a deterrent for students, Kokolis said.

The drug-testing program would be implemented by a test administrator, who would be from an independent agency and operating under contract with the Rock Hill School District. The test administrator will employ a Medical Review Officer that is certified by a national MRO certification organization. The Superintendent would also designate a Rock Hill School District employee to coordinate the program. The drug test would be administered through random selection, by urine sample, and would be conducted at least once a month during the academic year.

“Student rosters of drivers and athletes would be given to the testing agency. Students would be assigned a number and a computer program would randomly select a number. The district would inform the testing agency of the percentages of students to be tested each month, or each quarter, depending upon what is decided by the board, if the board would decide to proceed,” said Kokolis.

The testing administrator would not witness the collection of the urine sample but the tested would be administered in a secure, confidential area, Kokolis said in an email.

As stated in the draft of the administrative rule, the drugs that will be tested are cocaine, marijuana (THC), amphetamines/methamphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), alcohol, opiates (OxyContin, Vicodin), benzodiazepines (Valium), barbiturates, methadone, test adulterants, and propoxyphene (Darvon). However, at the recommendation of the contracted test administrator and determination by the superintendent, students may be tested for other additional substances for which use by a minor is illegal.

“Anyone on a prescribed medication would have to inform the test proctor, and the same with an over the counter medication. Allowances will be made in situations like this,” said Kokolis.

The cost of each test is $25 and the district would budget an extra $50,000 to cover the cost of test if the policy were implemented. However, if a student receives a false positive test, they would be required to pay out of pocket for a new test to be administered. If the test is proved to be a false positive test, the district will reimburse the student or family.

Consequences of a first positive drug test could be ineligibility for participation in extra-circular activities for 365 days unless the student is assessed and begins treatment/counseling.

“The concept of helping students that have possible drug problems is a really good idea, but I think there are some serious errors logistically and it isn’t a good use of district funds,” said Sophomore Class President Maddie Smith.

The district plans to collaborate with Keystone Substance Abuse Services of York County to administer counseling and treatment for students. The cost of counseling or treatment could potentially be anywhere from $1000-$2000, but Keystone offers a sliding scale depending on financial need.

“I personally think it’s an invasion of privacy and the things I do in my free time is none of the school’s concern,” said Junior Kayley Hebebrand.

Kokolis has polled groups of students, parents, and teachers regarding the policy. The results came back showing that 60% of the people polled at South Pointe, 69% of the people at Rock Hill, and 77% of the people at Northwestern were in favor of the policy.