School board adopts drug-testing policy

Published 5:48 am Saturday, June 21, 2008

By Staff
Students can be tested more than once per year
Senior Reporter
Students in Beaufort County have been put on notice by the Beaufort County Board of Education that the use of alcohol and/or illicit drugs continues not to be tolerated in the school system.
An updated policy adopted Thursday revamps the previous document to allow additional testing for drugs and alcohol.
She questioned the section of the policy that rests on the determination of reasonable cause made by a principal or assistant principal for the administrator to suspect that a student is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
Superintendent Jeff Moss said “reasonable basis” constituted the smell of alcohol or the presence of slurred speech or the observance of staggered walking or any of a number of other signs that indicate impairment.
In an earlier meeting, board member John White expressed similar concerns to Banks’ about the policy.
Moss told board members that all principals and assistant principals in the school system are educated on what “reasonable basis” is and understand when a call on suspected alcohol and/or drug use is appropriate.
The policy requires the administrator to base a disciplinary decision solely on the information obtained during the investigation of the alleged misconduct.
Despite the policy covering the total student population, it is very specific about athletes and their qualification to participate in sports.
The policy requires all athletes to be tested once per year during their sport’s season for alcohol and/or drug use; but, the policy does not require an athlete to be tested again if that athlete participates in more than one sport.
However, the policy does not put athletes in the clear after one test because the policy allows for an athlete to be tested again, and possibly more times, at some points during the year, as determined by the superintendent.
According to the policy, the number of athletes tested randomly will be: middle schools — six athletes per sports season; 3A high schools — 16 selected per month; and 1A high schools — 12 per month.
On a first offense of testing positive on a drug test, or if a student is caught with alcohol or a controlled substance at school or at a school-sponsored event or if a student is convicted in court for use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, the policy states that the student is ineligible to participate in athletics for 365 calendar days. However, if the student agrees to be assessed and enrolls in and successfully completes a substance-abuse education and/or intervention program recommended by the superintendent, the policy allows the student to regain eligibility to participate in sports.
On a second offense, the policy gives the student no reprieve and makes the student sit out of sports for a year.
The policy states that a student is not subject to suspension from school as a result of a positive test.