Pubdate: Wed, 22 Mar 2006
Source: Waco Tribune-Herald (TX)
Copyright: 2006 Waco-Tribune Herald
Author: Emily Ingram, Tribune-Herald, staff writer
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Starting next fall, Midway Middle School's seventh and  eighth graders
will join district high school students  in being randomly tested for

The Midway Independent School District Board of  Trustees unanimously
voted Tuesday night to extend the  testing for students in
extracurricular activities to  include middle school students.

Drug testing started in the fall of 2005 at Midway High  School,
funded through a three-year federal grant. As  part of grant
requirements, the school board needed to  incorporate drug testing of
seventh and eighth graders,  Midway superintendent Randy Albers said.

"The intent of (the drug testing) is to try to promote  our
extracurricular programs as drug-free and try to  give our students an
incentive to stay away from  drugs," Albers said.

Midway is currently the only district in the area that  conducts such

Out of the 1,900 Midway High students, 1,100 are  involved in
extracurricular activities that include  sports, band and choir.

During each round of monthly testing, 10 percent of the  1,100
students are randomly tested for drugs. So far,  the high school has
done five rounds of tests,  beginning in September, with 100-110
students in each  round.

Of the 550 tests conducted so far, 15 were positive for  drugs
including prescription medication and marijuana.

School officials use a drug test which scans for  cocaine,
amphetamines, marijuana and opiates, Albers  said. The urine test
doesn't scan for steroids. For  this reason, students involved in
sports receive a  separate steroids test.

"Not every student is scanned for steroids," Albers  said. "The random
steroid tests are focused on athletes  because (the steroid tests are)
five times more  expensive than the other test."

While drug testing is financed for the next two years  through the
grant, the school will foot the bill for  the testing after the
three-year grant runs out, Albers  said. Testing at all three schools
will cost the  district approximately $30,000 per year.

If a student's test returns positive with no medical  explanation,
such as prescription medication, the  student is required to submit to
the next three testing  periods and is suspended from extracurricular
activities for a year, Albers said.

If the student returns another positive test, the  student must
participate in drug counseling before  returning to extracurricular
activities. If a student  receives a third positive drug test, the
student will  be banned permanently from all extracurricular  activities.

So far, Albers has heard "absolutely no feedback" from  parents at the
middle school, but when drug testing at  the high school was proposed
last year, Albers said  parents were supportive of the testing.

Middle school parent John Williams agrees.

"I think any time drug testing is involved with kids,  it's a good
idea," Williams said. "The first priority  is the parents watching
kids, but there are good  parents everywhere who miss things as well."

Still, other parents and family members have  reservations.

"I really think it's a shame that they're mistrusting  young people,"
Midway Middle School grandmother Corinne  Olson said. "I think there's
drugs going on, but I  don't see it here. I don't know if it's a good
thing or  a bad thing." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake