Queen Creek High School expects to test hundreds of athletes this year in a random drug-testing policy the school board initiated last school year.
The policy, inspired by a parent asking for help with a student’s drug problem, produced no positive results last year, said athletic director Tot Workman.
"Last year we only tested four or five times," Workman said. "This year you’ll be seeing a whole lot of it."
The policy allows the school to randomly test up to 25 percent of active athletes as often as four times monthly. Workman estimates about 600 tests will be administered this school year. About 250 were tested last year.
He said drugs the district considers the greatest concern are alcohol, marijuana and Ecstacy.
Some students said that while the act of testing can be uncomfortable, they know of students who have quit drugs in response and generally supported and become accustomed to the procedure.
"It’s a little weird," said sophomore Troye Belnap, who tested three times last year. "You don’t want anyone to see the little cup."
Belnap said she has friends who have used the testing policy as an excuse to turn down drinking at parties.
Senior Ashlee Ferguson, 17, said some of her friends or acquaintances have stopped drinking and smoking marijuana. "At first they were kind of like ‘this sucks,’ " she said. "Now it’s normal for them."
Jeff Black, Queen Creek Unified School District governing board president, said the testing policy is worth the $6 per student lab costs and cost of supplies which can add up to more than $4,000 a year. The board will review how the policy is working later in the year.
Parents and students sign consent forms to test for drugs including alcohol, Ecstacy, cocaine, depressants, opiates and marijuana. The consent allows testing for steroids if a coach sees signs of use.
Test results are not disclosed to police, but students who test positive are suspended from athletics for 18 weeks on the first offense. Students who enter an intervention program can regain 12 of those weeks. Students who voluntarily submit to the test and an intervention program are exempt from testing for a semester.
Drug testing is required in only a handful of other districts in the state, including Paradise Valley Unified School District.