Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jun 2005
Source: Hendersonville Times-News (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Hendersonville Newspaper Corporation
Author: Scott Parrott
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


ROSMAN -- Transylvania County Schools tested 266 students during its first 
year of random drug testing for athletes and other students involved in 
extracurricular activities. Five returned positive for marijuana use.

The school system released the findings during a School Board meeting 
Monday night at Rosman High School.

School Board members and educators hailed the new program as a success, 
saying it offered students another reason to say no and another way to 
avoid peer pressure.

"You have five who tested positive," said John Tinsley, the director of 
Athletics and Safe Schools. "But how many did it keep away from drugs?"

Starting last fall, the school system randomly tested students at Rosman 
and Brevard High schools. It conducted 12 separate screenings, randomly 
selecting 266 students from a pool of 2,004.

Six screenings were held at each school throughout the year. Brevard High 
had 163 of its 1,195 students tested, while 103 of 809 Rosman High students 
took the test.

After the first round of tests, the results most often returned clean. 
Three Brevard High students tested positive for marijuana on the first 
round, while one Rosman High student tested positive for the same substance 
during that school's first round.

The rest of the tests at Brevard High returned negative. One other student 
tested positive for marijuana use at Rosman High, on the final round of tests.

Penalties after positive tests affect only extracurricular activities. 
Students remain in school, and face no suspension from class. But in order 
to continue their sport or activity, the students must attend counseling 
and pass another test.

When the School Board first considered random drug tests, the topic proved 
hot in Transylvania County. School Board members postponed one vote on the 
measure, after parents questioned the fairness and effectiveness of 
mandatory drug testing.

The school system ultimately became the first in North Carolina to 
implement mandatory drug testing in all its high schools.

Educators said the first year went smoothly, with few complaints from 
parents and students.

"To be honest, it went much more smoothly than I thought it would," Tinsley 
told the School Board. "They understood the principles of the whole thing."

Superintendent Sonna Lyda said other counties have approached the school 
system for help in implementing similar programs.

The tests cost $6,046. The school system covered most of the cost, about 
$5,800, with a grant.

School Board Chairwoman Teresa McCall said it was worth every penny.

"Folks are really glad we've taken this step to try to do 
give students another opportunity to say no," McCall said.
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