MONETT, Mo. — A southwest Missouri school district considers a drug testing policy for students to combat a growing problem.
Monett High School Principal David Williams says he’s afraid his students face a growing problem.
“Primarily, what I’m hearing about is two different things. One of them is marijuana, the other one is prescription pills,” said David Williams, Monett High School Principal.
To help curb that problem, Williams and Monett Middle School Principal Jonathan Apostol have begun investigating a random drug testing program for district students.
“Potentially, this would cover our extra curricular students, our co-curricular students, across at the high school. It would also cover students who apply for parking permits on our campus,” said Williams.
A public forum about the proposal was held earlier this week, and Apostal says there were a lot of questions.
“The questions that a lot of parents had were about clarification of how the procedure would be completed, or the process would happen, during a random drug screening,” said Jonathan Apostol, Monett Middle School Principal.
Williams says under the proposal, the district would use a third party vendor, who would select the names to be tested at random. At no point would district personnel be involved in the process, other than arranging for the kids to be taken to the room for testing. Williams says great care will be taken to ensure student privacy, during and after the test.
“No one, outside of the parents and the administrators, will know who tested positive and who tested negative,” Williams explained.
Williams says if a positive test is identified, it will be sent to a lab for verification. During that time, parents will be given a chance to present mitigating evidence to the school, like a prescription. If the lab results are confirmed, Williams says the first offense would result in a 60 day suspension from the school club, or a 1/3 of the season suspension from a Missouri State High School Athletic Association sanctioned activity.
A second would result in a 365 day suspension, and the third offense would be permanent suspension. That would only apply to things like sports and school clubs, not the classroom.
“This will not trigger any suspension from school,” said Williams.
Williams says there’s an incentive for any kids who do test positive to get help.
“They can reduce that suspension by half if they choose to take part in a school approved drug counseling program,” said Williams.
While Williams does hope the testing will get a student the help they need, he also hopes it gives them an easy out if they’re asked to do something wrong.
“I want to give our students at Monett a chance, a face-saving way to say ‘no,'” Williams explained.
A community forum to discuss the proposal will be held May 17th, at 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Monett High School.