Pubdate: Mon, 05 Aug 2013
Source: Free Lance-Star, The (VA)
Copyright: 2013 The Free Lance-Star
Author: Dan McFarland


Students who participate in extracurricular activities in Orange 
County schools next year will be subject to random drug testing.

The School Board Monday passed, by a 4-1 vote, a measure that would 
require testing for "Students Involved with Competitive 
Extracurricular Activities."

The regulation was developed by a committee of parents, students, 
school staff and community members in response to the findings of the 
2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey completed earlier this year.

Under the new program, 10 percent of students in grades 6 through 12 
who are involved in competitive extra-curricular activities will be 
randomly selected to complete testing for drug and alcohol use.

The vote came after a public comment period in which four speakers 
split opinions, with two in favor of the policy and two against. 
Betty Winter, who is running unopposed for the District 4 School 
Board seat being vacated by former School Board Chairman Jerry 
Bledsoe, said she supported the measure, noting that the school 
system has a responsibility to prepare students for the real world 
and teach them accountability for their actions.

Kim Hoosier, a parent whose two boys attend Orange County schools, 
spoke against it, questioning the reliability of the survey. Hoosier 
said some students may have answered yes to questions just to impress 
their friends.

"I know that adolescents have a tendency to answer the way they think 
they should, rather than truthfully," she said.

Hoosier also questioned the program's cost, constitutionality, and 
whether being drug tested might prove traumatizing for younger 
students, creating a barrier to participating in activities.

Parent Mary Schlegel also spoke against the proposal, noting that, in 
terms of the schools' existing anti-drug regulation, it seemed to be 
"discriminating against a group of children in the schools."

Caroline Marrs, also a parent, supported the rule.

"I think this is a societal problem," she said, "and a huge problem 
in our school system."

She commended the School Board for "taking a stance on this."

While some on the board opposed the plan, others were united in 
support for the new regulation.

"If we can catch a few kids early on," Board member Sheri Page said, 
"change their course, and give them the help they need, then I will 
consider it a good day."

Bledsoe felt that the new policy did not contradict the current 
policy, but enhanced it by representing "a higher standard" for 
student athletes and other student role models.

Board member Lou Thompson said that when he discussed the proposal 
with his 14-year-old daughter, who will attend Orange County High 
School next year, she said she supported it, saw the societal need 
involved and also felt that students had been very honest in 
responding to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Board Chairwoman Judy Carter supported the measure as well. "Society 
has a problem," she stated. "I can only do so much for society, but 
as a school board member, I can do something to help our students."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom