Athletes, cheerleaders would be part of testing pool
BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Prevention and intervention are two reasons to implement a random drug testing program, according to a proposal presented to the Davis School Board on Tuesday.
Students in Davis School District who participate in extracurricular activities at the high school level could be randomly tested throughout the year if the proposal becomes policy.
Though board members challenged several aspects of the plan, they agreed to consider a formal policy.
The proposal was the work of a committee that included high school athletic directors, vice principals, trainers, medical professionals and parents.
District personnel were approached by parents and trainers about the need for such a policy, according to John Robison, healthy lifestyles supervisor for the district. The committee gathered information from districts that have drug testing programs already in place.
“We got very, very similar feedback,” said Robison. “They felt that testing has discouraged drug use. That’s been a major positive result.”
As outlined in the proposal, students who participate in competitive sports governed by the Utah High School Activities Association such as baseball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, drill team, swimming, track and field and wrestling, could be randomly tested. In addition, student officers and students involved in cheerleading would be part of the random pool for testing.
To pay for the tests, which run $17 each, the committee proposed adding a $5 fee to athletic participation fees. Five random tests would be given each week at each high school.
Before participating in the activities, students and their parents or guardians would sign a consent form. Students would also receive instruction beforehand on the dangers of illegal and performance-enhancing drugs.
If a test were to come back positive, parents would be notified and the student suspended from two consecutive games or performances and required to have an assessment by a licensed substance abuse intervention or treatment program. A clean test would also be required before the student can return to the activity.
The second offense would result in similar consequences, but a six-week suspension from activities would be added. The third offense would result in an 18-week suspension from sports and other activities.
As the proposal now reads, police would not be notified in the case of a positive test result. Results would only be disclosed to police if there were a subpoena.
Board member David Lovato argued that athletes should not be singled out, but that if any students are tested, all should be, including students in debate and music programs.
He also challenged whether the policy was necessary at all, saying district schools are already drug free.
Parents and trainers who had served on the committee countered with stories of drugs being introduced when students joined teams and said kids need another reason to say “no” to drugs.
In districts where drug testing has been in place, students often said they were grateful for the program.
“They said it gave them an out,” said Michelle Beus, legal issues specialist for the district. “It’s a safety net and an excuse. They’d say, ‘I can’t because I might be tested Monday.’”