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Random drug testing for student athletes gets board approval
Apr 18, 2013 | 3070 views | 0 0 comments | 179 179 recommendations | email to a friend | print

BY LOUISE R. SHAW

Clipper Staff Writer

BOUNTIFUL — A divided Davis School Board voted on Tuesday to implement random drug testing in Davis County schools.

“I like that this proposal was brought to us by parents,” said Kathie Bone, school board member. “I like that it’s not punitive, it’s preventative. If we can catch any child and help them not get into drugs, it’s worth a yes vote.”

David Lovato was one of two board members opposing the policy. Four voted in support.

“I oppose it because it does not protect and apply to all students in a fair and equitable manner,” said Lovato. 

Those subject to the testing, who will include athletes, cheerleaders and student officers, represent only 10 percent of the student body, he said. 

“It’s also unnecessary and redundant,” said Lovato. “Our focus should be on educating, and not eroding the trust between educators, students and parents.”

The testing will be funded by adding $5 to the fee students now pay for extracurricular activities.

Four to five students from each high school each week will be randomly selected to provide a urine sample. If any test positive, they will receive counseling and can continue to practice with teams, but cannot participate in games.

“I think we have to support the coaches, the trainers and the parents who are kind of in the trenches, who have brought this to our attention,” said Tamara Lowe, board president. “I think this will be a deterrent Р and a welcome deterrent for some students.”

Though public comment was not part of Tuesday’s agenda, several parents expressed their opposition to the policy by applauding the comments of Lovato and Larry Smith, who also opposed the testing.

“I hope there is a way we can appeal this,” said Kay Allen outside the meeting room after the vote was taken.

Her husband, Clay Allen, said board members skirted their responsibility by not having a more thorough public debate.

He said it is the responsibility of parents, not the schools, to monitor their children for potential drug abuse. 

“It’s a privacy invasion,” said Kay Allen, adding she may encourage her children to play in clubs or recreational leagues rather than have to submit to the tests. 

Existing policy allows for the testing of any student who is “reasonably suspected” of drug abuse. Those found possessing or distributing drugs face mandatory suspension. 

A committee of parents, coaches, trainers, athletic directors and district staff examined random drug testing policies established in other Utah districts before recommending the new policy.

lshaw@davisclipper.com

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