A new drug testing policy for students involved in activities at Carbon High School will go into effect on Aug. 1, after the Carbon School Board approved the second and third reading of the document at their regular meeting on July 10.
The policy, which revises one that had been in place since the 1990s but which was not being used, was discussed extensively at meetings last winter. Now the policy has been researched and is fact.
"This policy falls under the umbrella of the Utah High School Activities Association activities and rules," said Carbon School District Superintendent Steve Carlsen.
The board was on the second reading, but since activities and sports start around Aug. 1, they went ahead and approved both readings so the policy could be in force.
The reason for the policy is two fold. First there is a genuine concern that drug use among those students who participate in activities could damage their lives permanently. Secondly, the UHSAA has been encouraging school districts to come up with succinct policies on the issue.
During a board meeting in February, Carbon High Principal Bruce Bean pointed out that drug use is not confined to those students who would seem to be the type. Sometimes they can be the star athletes, star students and just regular kids.
For instance a little over a year ago two young men who went to Carbon High were busted for having controlled substances in their possession one day during their school lunch break. It happened downtown and they got in a good deal of trouble.
These students were not what many people picture as the type that might have trouble with the law, particularly with drugs. They were what many felt were "good kids" with no history of trouble and they got good grades. At least one of them was an athlete at the school, and had a good reputation.
When all the trouble was done and over with, Carbon High Principal Bruce Bean had one of the young men come into his office and interview him. What he said struck a chord with Bean.
"I asked him if we had been doing random tests on athletes for drugs if that would have made a difference and the kid told me 'Yes,''' said Bean during an interview in his office on Thursday morning. "He told me that it would have given him a good reason to say no."
The old system that Carbon High had for drug testing had too many flaws, too many problems.
"There were some problems with the way it had to be performed," Bean told the board on that winter evening. "The technology that was available made it difficult and it wasn't as accurate."
From that presentation and conversation with the board came the new drug testing policy that will start as activities begin next month.
"The big issue always has been who gets tested," said Carlsen. "We are going to use a system that is completely random. Each student who participates in covered activities will have a number and a computer generated list of those to be tested will be given to the independent company we have set up to do the drawing. Then 10 student names will be selected for testing. The testing will be done by that company through urine sample analysis that they will conduct."
Of course none of the cost of hiring a company to do this is free. Because of that fees for participation in activities covered under the new policy will be higher to pay for the testing. Along with the higher fee, the student and their parents will sign and written consent form to allow for the testing.
The new policy spells out the parameters of the program including participation in a program that is covered by UHSAA activity programs or if it is an adjudicated competition. The tests will look at controlled substances (including alcohol) and the tests can be done monthly or weekly.
All positive tests (first offense) will result in non-punitive punishment (such as referral to law enforcement) but will result in suspension from two consecutive competitions and a meeting with a licensed substance abuse counselor or involvement in a treatment program. Once this is done they can return to competition but will be entered back into the random pool of numbers. Parents will notified of the situation.
A second offense will result in a six week suspension from competition, and again a meeting with the proper counseling personnel will be required. After the counselor has issued their report the student may return to practice.
A third offense will result in an 18 week suspension and reinstatement is dependent on assessment, intervention and treatment success.
All the offenses will be accumulative during the entire career of a student at Carbon High School.
Students will have the chance to reveal prescription drug information and that information must be confirmed.
Parents may ask for a drug test of their student through the program, but they will bear the cost of the test.