BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — Despite opposition from two board members, a proposal for random drug testing in Davis School District schools passed its first reading on Tuesday and will again be considered at a second reading on April 16.
In the weeks since the proposed policy was posted on the district’s website, 29 of 34 respondents expresssed support for the proposal, according to John Robison, healthy lifestyles coordinator for the district.
As written, four to five students in each high school each week would be randomly selected to provide a urine sample. If the sample tested positive for illegal or performance-enhancing drugs, students would be kept from games but not practices and given counseling about the dangers of drug use. More positive tests would result in more restrictions.
The policy is discretionary to the board, said Robison, but came about as a result of requests from principals and parents.
“Some might believe this is an intrusion upon the privacy of certain citizens,” said Peter Cannon, a board member. “But minors fall in a different category. If there’s a way that we can help them to recognize the effects of what they’re doing, it’s worth the cost. I believe this will benefit many lives.”
Board members Larry Smith and David Lovato opposed the measure. Smith expressed concern about secondary effects, and said some students may turn to harder drugs that don’t stay in the system as long. He proposed an amendment that would require district staff to prepare detailed information about schools and sports and results.
The amendment was voted down due to privacy concerns.
The absence of ethnic minorities on the committee that drafted the policy was Lovato’s concern.
“Those people are the experts, they’ve dealt with these issues all their lives,” he said.
Robison said there was no intent to discriminate and that he would work very hard in the future to make sure minorities are represented.
“I have had a significant number of parents that have said they wished their kids had been in a school where they had random drug esting,” Robison told the board. “The more research we did, the more we became convinced we needed to do something.”