The USD 257 board of education heard information Monday evening about a potential random drug testing policy that could affect students at Iola High School.
According to Assistant Principal Scott Crenshaw, the testing pool would include any student involved in “school activities” — athletics, dances, drama or other special events.
The parent/guardian and the student are required to sign a consent form and registration form prior to the school year, explained Crenshaw. “Failure to register disqualifies students from participation in athletics, activities, dances, field trips, etc.”
If a student tests positive for an illegal substance, the parent or guardian will be notified, at which point the student will enter an “intervention program” involving a mandatory drug awareness course and the willingness to submit to “mandatory, future drug tests, at the discretion of the building principal, for up to a period of 12 months from the failed drug test.”
Crenshaw — who will take over as high school principal in the fall — was quick to stress that any punishment handed down to a student will be “non-academic” in nature and will only affect the student’s participation in extracurricular activities. For example, a first positive test result might prompt a two-week suspension from school activities — not an academic suspension.
This program, said Crenshaw — who pointed to similar policies at Chanute, Central Heights, Osawatomie and Santa Fe Trail — goes a long way toward undermining the effects of peer pressure by giving students an “out.” “They will have a legitimate reason to refuse to participate in illegal drug use,” said Crenshaw, because, now, “they can blame the school!”
In a point echoed emphatically by Superintendent of Schools Jack Koehn, Crenshaw said the random drug testing policy also fits with the district’s strategic plan in that it prepares students for a work world in which employers routinely lament their inability to find a reliably sober labor force.
The policy discussion is in its early days yet and will receive a fuller airing, and a board vote, at a future meeting.
IN OTHER news:
— The board heard high school principal Stacey Fager on the benefits of moving toward a virtual driver’s education program facilitated by Greenbush. The online program would center on the mandatory classroom portion of driver’s ed, of course; students would continue to receive regular in-car instruction in Iola.
— The board, in their role as Bowlus Trustees, voted to approve Hofer & Hofer & Associates, Inc. (Humboldt) as construction managers of the Bowlus Fine Arts Center’s building addition.