Harrisburg school district working on random drug testing policy draft

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | 4:57 p.m. CDT; updated 10:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 18, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Harrisburg R-VIII School District is taking the "Just Say No" mantra into its own hands. 

A random drug testing policy for certain students is in discussion for the school district northwest of Columbia. The district has made public the current draft of the policy

"If a student loves playing basketball or loves being a member of the student council, the random drug testing policy provides them with a reason to say no," said Sean Cochran, president of the Harrisburg R-VIII School Board. 

District Superintendent Lynn Proctor called the draft a work in progress. She expects tweaks and changes in the coming months.

"We are currently in the policy discussion and public feedback stage," Proctor said. "It has been a board meeting agenda item for several months now." 

A random drug testing policy was up for discussion several years ago, but at the time, the school board was also figuring out program budget cuts so the issue was tabled, she said.  

"The policy idea was regenerated several months ago after several situations of long-term student suspensions occurred in relation to drug possession," Proctor said. 

Proctor said a committee to discuss the policy has been organized. The committee comprises school board members, parents and other members of the school district.

"The committee looked into other policies, generated discussion and then drafted the proposed policy," Proctor said. "From there, the committee wanted public input." 

She said the district has held one public forum on the proposed policy. Community members were also able to comment at an event called "School Matters" in which any school-related topic could be discussed.

Details of the draft

According to the draft, the district wants to adopt this policy for Harrisburg students in grades seven through 12 who participate in off-season and in-season extracurricular activities, co-curricular activities and the student parking program, which grants students parking permits at the school. 

A Supreme Court decision has dictated that school districts cannot subject all students to random drug testing, Proctor said.

"The policy is not connected to the actual school day but only to students who wish to participate in privilege activities such as extracurricular activities and the student parking program," she said.

The draft identifies eight objectives for the policy including establishing conduct for district students, identifying students who are misusing drugs so that intervention plans can be implemented at home and in school and sending a clear message that the district is committed to eliminating student chemical abuse. 

According to the draft, the random drug testing policy will consist of the following procedure: 

  • All students participating in activities and/or the student driver program will be given a copy of the Drug Testing Participation and Consent Form. The form will be read, signed and dated by the student and guardian(s). 
  • Upon submitting the form, the student will remain a part of the drug-testing program until another form is submitted requesting removal from it. 
  • Once the student has been removed, he or she becomes ineligible for the extra activities for 365 days and his or her name is removed from the drug-testing pool. 
  • Students will be required to submit an updated signed form at the beginning of each school year. If the student fails to do so, he or she will be removed from the drug-testing program, thus submitting to the year-long waiting period before opting back in. 

If the student participates in an extracurricular activity, a school club or organization or the student parking program, he or she will be assigned an identification number by a third-party drug screening company and placed into a middle school or high school pool, according to the draft. 

From there, the drug screening company will randomly select 5 percent of the identification numbers from the middle and high school pools and a minimum of five alternative identification numbers to take potential absences into account. 

"The policy has a very specific protocol," Proctor said. "It's important to know exactly what the policy procedures will look like."

Penalties vary

According to the draft, the consequences of a positive drug test vary in severity for first, second and third offenses: 

  • First offense: The student shall be suspended from 20 percent of all total games for that season, 20 percent of the total club or organization activities or 20 percent of parking privileges for the 149-day school year. 
  • Second offense: The student shall be suspended from 50 percent of all total games for that season, 50 percent of the total club or organization activities or 50 percent of parking privileges for the school year. 
  • Third offense: The student may be able to attend practices, games and club or organization events but will no longer be able to participate. The student will forfeit all parking privileges.

Community feedback sought

Cochran said that, as a school board member, he has heard both positive and negative feedback but that more of it was positive.

"The stage we are at right now is gathering information," Cochran said. "We want to take all the concerns from the community, hear them and continue to move forward."

He said the best way to share feedback is to contact the district's administration office, 1000 S. Harris St., Harrisburg, MO 65256, or 573-875-5604.

Email addresses for school board members can be found on the district's website,, under "School Board Announcements."

Proctor said the policy is essentially in the works to provide students with a reason to say no to drug use.

"It's important for our patrons, parents and guardians to understand that this program is being designed as a prevention tool rather than a punitive tool," she said.

Proctor said that if the policy is passed, it will tentatively take effect for the 2012-13 school year.

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Ray Shapiro April 18, 2012 | 11:37 a.m.

I've met a few former Columbia parents who moved to Harrisburg as there's a safer and better environment for their children in its schools and neighborhoods. Sometimes, a town leaves parents with no other option than "white flight."
I'm glad to see that a precaution to ensure that students are not stealing taxpayers monies by attending class, while learning impaired due to substance abuse, is being addressed.
In Columbia, I'd like to see that students who return from open campus lunch and appear quite different in their learning behaviors be sent to the nurse's office for drug testing. I'd also like to see drug and gun sniffing dogs and metal detectors at Columbia schools to send the message that these kind of criminal activities in our public schools will no longer be tolerated.

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton April 18, 2012 | 2:30 p.m.

Stealing taxpayer money?

The state REQUIRES them to attend school. This isn't welfare.

By your logic every citizen should be drug-tested to make sure they aren't "stealing"* when they use roads, utilities, parks, water, etc. Since we do that every day, I guess there would be drug tests of everyone every day for the rest of our lives.

Sounds like a good use of taxpayer funds (the pretext which you profess to care about in this situation)--at $100/drug test that would be over $10 trillon per year. Drug testing for ALL illicit drugs [ie., everything not lobbied for by a pharmaceutical company] would run SUBSTANTIALLY more than that.

I'm not sure Harrisburg has that kind of money.

This isn't even getting into why it matters to you whether someone you don't know puts whatever they want into their own body.

* I'm not sure how using drugs concurrently with public goods is theft, which is why I use the scare quotes.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 18, 2012 | 3:45 p.m.

Not only are those being subsidized to receive an education from property taxes "stealing" from those supporting public schools by attending class while under the influence of drugs and becoming learning impaired, so too are they "stealing" from themselves.
Minors attending public schools should be scrutinized for not only endangering their own education, so too should they be screened for endangering the education of others.
Drug testing of apparently stoned students, attending class impaired, makes good public school education sense.
So too does drug and gun sniffing dogs around backpacks and lockers.
School administers owe their teachers, the students, parents and the taxpayer that much, at the very least.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 18, 2012 | 3:54 p.m.

("Public schools should impose mandatory drug testing on students:
1804 votes
1915 votes")

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 18, 2012 | 4:18 p.m.

("Homeschooling is Safer than Public Schools")

And if they attend public school, drug testing is no more expensive to the taxpayer then the "free" lunch program.
In fact, a healthier, improved teaching environment would help us save money spent on future addicts and the crime which ensues.

Urine drug testing is the most commonly used drug testing type in the home, among employers and law enforcement. Urine tests can detect drugs in your child’s system for up to three days after use, but it has been known to detect drugs all the way up to 30 days after use. If you are unsure as to when the drug use took place, but believe it happened in the last few days, a urine drug test is perfect for your situation. They can detect all of the major drug types at once, or you also have the option to test for a single drug. Additionally, urine drug testing kits are simple and easy to use. Just be sure to stay close by while your teen provides a urine sample and if necessary, have them perform the test more than once.

One of the major shortcomings of urine drug testing is the ability to cheat or adulterate the results. In fact, there is a whole industry designed to help people cheat. Some methods people use include providing a fake urine sample, substituting someone else’s urine or adding chemicals to the urine to attempt to adulterate the results. If your son or daughter comes to expect the drug tests they may try to adulterate the results, so practicing random drug testing is an ideal way to identify drug use in your home along with ensuring the tests you use have built-in adulteration detection.

Saliva drug testing is ideal to use on the day you suspect drug abuse has occurred, since they can detect drug use within hours. For example, your teen arrives home late after a night out with friends. All you need to do is place the spoon collector in their mouth and then place it in the testing device. The results are ready within minutes.

These test kits are easy to use, non-invasive and provide fast and accurate results, however, if your teen also smokes cigarettes or chews gum often, the test results may be compromised. Even so, these tests are hard to adulterate and if necessary you can take an additional sample and send it in for lab confirmation and receive a full report on the results.. Saliva drug tests are most suited for testing very recent drug use, as they detect drug use upto 48 hours.")
Home Drug Test $0.32 |
Drug Screening Tests.
Free Shipping. From $1.65. FDA ok.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle April 18, 2012 | 5:53 p.m.

Sure, let's get all our kids used to being sniffed, scanned, and investigated every day, at every turn. Papers and Pee, Please. That will teach them all about American civil liberty!

I guarantee the school district will lose at least one more student if they actually implemented something like that.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 20, 2012 | 2:56 p.m.

("Faced with the rising concern regarding teen drug and substance abuse, the Supreme Court granted public schools the legal permission to administer random drug tests for student athletes in 2002. Since this decision, public schools have contemplated expanding the drug testing scope into their entire student population....Testing the Boundaries

While the drug testing standards practiced by most schools have been somewhat limited, many school leaders have begun expanding their search parameters. For example, the Nettle Creek School District, located in Hagerstown, Indiana, subjected approximately 575 of its students to random drug tests. This random screening included athletes as well as non-athletes of any grade. Furthermore, this district also upheld a policy to rightfully drug test any individual who was choosing to attend a school dance, a class party, or any other school-related event. Opponents of drug testing assert that the Nettle Creek School District is overstepping its rights, as the district is unreasonably suspecting random students of inappropriate behaviors.

Expanding on the controversy, USA Today explores additional debates and concerns in their article “Strip Search Review Tests Limits of School Drug Policy.” As the article reveals, a young 8th grader attending a Safford public school, located in Arizona, was removed from class for a random and invasive drug search: “(the student) was scared and confused when an assistant principal searching for drugs ordered her out of math class, searched her backpack and then instructed an administrative aide and school nurse to conduct a strip search.”

According to the school leaders, the strip search was a valid attempt to protect all students from the dangers of drugs; however, it should be noted that this particular student had never previously been found with drugs, was not caught with drugs during the strip search, and had no inappropriate records or history in her student file. As a result of this, advocates for the student argue that unfair and invasive actions were taken without due cause.

Student Privacy Rights

When exploring the tumultuous debate over students’ rights, many citizens argue that teenagers and adolescents are simply not yet qualified for full constitutional privileges. Specifically, since most teens in public school are not yet 18 years old, schools do not have to grant all students American freedoms and rights, including freedom of speech and the right to privacy...")

(Report Comment)
mike mentor April 20, 2012 | 4:02 p.m.

Holy creepers, I thought Orwells big brother was ominous...

(Report Comment)

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