Drug testing starts Oct. 1

By Staff
Tracy L. Brady, Hartselle Enquirer
Students in Hartselle have about a month to come clean.
On Oct. 1, the Hartselle Board of Education will start drug-testing students in grades seven through 12 who participate in any extracurricular activities. These students will each be screened for drugs, alcohol and tobacco use once and then randomly every 30 days of the academic year.
According to the board, the new policy will affect approximately 1,200 students.
A committee appointed by the board representing schools, students, parents, and the community interviewed companies on Tuesday night to conduct the testing. The company will be announced at the Sept. 9 board meeting.
Once a company is secured, the board will hold a public meeting to inform parents and the community of testing procedures and penalties.
A final draft of the policy will be up for board approval Sept. 9.
A draft of the drug testing policy states first and second positive tests will result in suspension from 30 percent of extracurricular functions and events and mandatory drug counseling. A third positive test will result in a permanent ban from extracurricular activities and continued drug counseling.
Penalties are the same for each substance. Parents, principals, counselors and coaches/sponsors will be notified if a student tests positive for drug, alcohol or tobacco use.
Drug counseling will take place at the central office. Any student who refuses testing or counseling will not be allowed to participate in any extracurricular activity.
Testing will be performed on students who participate in sport, academic or interest based extracurricular activities.
Any student who tests positive will be screened at every testing for one calendar year.
The Decatur City School system is only testing students who participate in competitive extracurricular activities.
The drug testing program's initial budget has been set at $23,000, of which $3,000 has been designated for student counseling. The budget was derived from existing school system funds.
Members of the drug testing policy committee are: Committee Chairperson and Hartselle High School Assistant Principal Susan Hayes, Hartselle Board of Education member Susan Puckett; Hartselle City Council representative Frank Jones, band parent Greg Dobbs, cheerleader parent Pam Byford, Hartselle Junior High School teacher and coach Christy Ferguson, Hartselle High School teacher and coach Johnny Berry, athletic parent Barry Hamilton, HHS students Jwaun Ward and Amanda Munger, HHS teacher Judy Praytor, and community representatives Cleo Stubbs and Lt. Tom Sparks.

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