Florence High to start random drug testing - East Valley Tribune: News

Florence High to start random drug testing

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Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:19 pm | Updated: 9:37 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Musicians, athletes and cheerleaders at Florence High School will now be subject to random drug testing after the school board approved the new policy Wednesday.

Any students could be tested who are involved in an Arizona Interscholastic Association activity, which includes everything from jazz band and cheerleading, to sports and show choir.

The testing should begin sometime in the upcoming school year, and will cost the district $5,000 for the first year, said Larry Cline, a spokesman for the Florence Unified School District.

"It was an opportunity to provide students a way to say no to drugs and not to be tempted if they would happen to have an opportunity," Cline said. "This was not as a result of any identifying problem."

Florence police responded to Florence High 10 times for drugs and drug-related issues from June 2007 to June 2008, said Detective Walt Hunter, a police spokesman.

Some parents recognize there is a drug problem at the high school and say drug testing is a good thing.

Chris Musselman, whose son will be a senior this year, said he doesn't think the school has a grasp on the drug problem.

"I don't know that it's their responsibility," said Musselman, whose son plays basketball at the school. "I hope this controls it a little bit, that's for sure."

The drug-testing program mirrors one in the Chandler Unified School District, which started its program in 2005 after receiving a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

Chandler district spokesman Terry Locke said their program has been successful.

The district plans to continue the random drug testing and is looking at ways to fund it after the grant runs out in the fall.

"We think it's done a really nice job of keeping kids from experimenting," Locke said. "The point of the program wasn't to catch students doing drugs, it's to serve as a deterrent."

Students who want to participate in an AIA-eligible sport or activity have to agree to submit to a random drug test, and written parental consent also is required before a student can participate.

Ten students will be randomly selected each quarter for drug testing, according to the policy.

Students will be tested for alcohol, prohibited controlled substances, performance-enhancing substances, medications not prescribed to the student, hallucinogenic substances and inhalants, according to the policy.

Students who test positive for drugs on the first offense can choose between taking an eight-week suspension from the activity, or a four-week suspension if they attend eight substance abuse counseling sessions.

A student who tests positive a second time will be suspended for one year from all sports and activities.

The third offense is a permanent ineligibility for any activities and sports in the district.

The drug testing also will be done at Poston Butte High School once it opens in July, Clinesaid.

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