South Adams sets rules for drug testing

    Guidelines have been set for a random drug testing policy at South Adams Schools that will be implemented beginning next school year.
    Superintendent Scott Litwiller said at Tuesday's board meeting that a committee met several times and "the guidelines are probably as complete as they can be until we get into it [the practice of random drug testing] a little bit and then we can tweak them."
    According to Litwiller, the random drug testing program is "meant to be a deterrent and a proactive approach to a drug-free school." The estimated cost to test seven students per week (five in high school and two in middle school) is $5,800 per year. Litwiller said he is exploring grant options to pay for the program.
    The program will include students in grades 6-12 who participate in one or a combination of the following: extracurricular sports; co-curricular activities; drive a vehicle to, from or during school; and/or are enrolled in driver's education through South Adams High School.
    Also, any student's parent/guardian or custodian may elect to enroll his/her child in the program. Students who choose not to participate in the random drug testing program will not be eligible to participate in such activities.
    Litwiller said that a positive random drug test will not result in suspension or expulsion from school, and it will not be documented in any student's academic record. However, there are three levels of consequences for positive tests: If a student participates in athletics, the consequences will follow the athletic code of conduct. If a student participates in an extracurricular activity, a co-curricular activity and/or drives to school, the consequence for a first offense will be suspension from participating in the activity for 45 days; second offense — one calendar year; and third offense — remainder of student's middle school or high school career.
    Litwiller said that although the schools plan to hold informational meetings for parents and students, he encourages them to visit the schools' website for a written description of the program.
    The board policy allows for urinalysis test, saliva screening and/or a breathalyzer, but for the first year of implementation, the predominant method of testing will be saliva screening.
    Board member Tony Mellencamp asked Litwiller about students who have been prescribed medication such as codeine which will show up as positive on a drug test.
    Litwiller replied by saying, "Students will have two days from the positive test result to give an explanation." He added that the program test will show "not only is it positive, but how positive it is."
    Random student drug testing committee members include: Steve Dobler, Litwiller, Trent Lehman, Jeff Rich, Mike Pries, Yvette Weiland, Angie Richert, Troy Young, Cindy Minnich, Doug Beall, Curt Amstutz, Brian Strauss, Denny Affolder and Lack and Melinda Taing.