The Kirksville R-III School Board unanimously approved a new policy that will require all student athletes in grades 7-12 to consent to random drug testing in order to be eligible to participate. They will have to sign a form at the beginning of their season. Superintendent Patrick Williams said the policy will be put into effect immediately.
"I'm very happy the policy has passed because our main goal as a school board is to keep students, faculty, and staff all safe, to keep a drug free environment and hopefully by having this policy, it's going to help improve that and eliminate some drugs that could possibly be in school," said Larry Logston, Vice President of the Kirksville R-III School Board.
"If we can take one student and change their direction of their life, go one way to the other, and deliver a positive successful life, this whole policy has been well worth it."
The new policy also applies to members of the band, dance team, cheerleaders, choir, speech/debate, and academic bowl. In addition, there is a provision that allows parents to enroll their children in the program even if they are not involved in an activity.
Students will be tested for meth, cocaine, marijuana, prescription drugs and opiates to name a few. School Board members said more drugs could be added in the future.
The expense of the random drug tests will be covered by the district, which expects to spend about $3-5,000 annually on the random drug tests.
Under the new policy, for the first offense, if a student's drug test comes back positive, they will be excluded from all covered activities for 30 calendar days and must pass a drug test to be reinstated. A second offense involves a 90-day exclusion and a third offense excludes a student from participating in activities for the rest of their time enrolled in the district. The policy does have a provision that allows students to get their exclusion time reduced.
"We've tried to incorporate into the policy, penalties and consequences that even though it may exclude for a period of time, it does make opportunities for students to be re-instated so they can get the help they need," said Williams. "I don't anticipate that there will be widespread quitting or anything of that sort."
Williams said once students have entered the testing pool, they can be tested at any time of the year.
"Now if you're in the off season, and you're tested and you happen to test positive, of course you won't be excluded from any activity if you're not in an activity," said Williams. "But it will go down as a first offense or second offense or third offense or whatever the case may be plus you'll be required to have a negative test before you can turn back to eligibility status."
Students who have a positive test will not be suspended from school nor will the results be reported to law enforcement.