August 5, 2013
Some students at Orange County Public Schools will soon be subject to random drug and alcohol screenings.
The school board voted 4-to-1 Monday to approve the new policy, which will begin this coming school year. Students in 6th through 12th grades who participate in school sports or other competitive extra-curricular activities and Virginia High School League activities will be affected.
"The ultimate goal is to open the community's eyes and hopefully identify any children that might be close or have made a bad decision, give them an opportunity to get some counseling to not make the same decision again," said school board member Jerry Bledsoe.
The idea to drug test students came after the results of a 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated drug, alcohol and tobacco use among students. It is hoped by the schools that the screening program will serve as a deterrent.
"I think other school systems have similar problems. I don't think Orange County has any bigger problems than any other community. I think we're just trying to address it," said school board chair Judy Carter.
A 15-member committee made up of students, parents, school staff and community members created the regulation that was voted into action Monday evening.
The new policy lays out the punishment for each offense, ranging from suspension from 20 percent of games or contests for a season following one positive test to not being allowed to participate in any further extra curricular activities after four positive tests.
"The best possible outcome is that we don't have any on the second test," said Cater. "We know realistically that we're going to have some of them on the first test, but the real answer and hope is that we have none for the second, third or fourth."
The schools will pay for the first test. After that, it's on the parents.
The program is expected to cost about $7,000. Carter says about half of that will be covered by money left over from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
To read more about the policy, click HERE.