Students undergo drug screenings

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

It was a different kind of quiz for 45 students of LawrenceCounty High School Wednesday morning – no knowledge required.

The students became the fourth group to be tested under a newLawrence County School District policy allowing drug tests thisyear. The students, both boys and girls, were chosen randomly bycomputer from a list of those participating in any extracurricularactivity, from sports to academic clubs.

Three tests were given earlier this year and officials werepleasantly surprised by some of the results, said Mike Davis, thedistrict’s athletic director.

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“A lot of times a kid with a reputation for drugs has testedjust the opposite. Positive results have been very minimal,” hesaid. “We’ve had better than 98 percent test clean. Our kids seemto take pride in the fact that so many test clean.”

Although Superintendent Russell Caudill said he believes 98percent to be an accurate reflection of the school body, headmitted it was not unheard of for some students to refuse thetest.

“We have had a kid or two quit rather than submit to the test,”he said. “There are certain things that are more important thanwinning state championships and this is one of them.”

Any student in the district involved in extracurricularactivities can be tested at any time, Caudill said. However, thetests have only been given to high school students during thisinitial year.

The students also seem to approve the testing, Davis said.

“I haven’t heard a single complaint,” he said. “They were givennotice last year that we would be implementing it this year.”

Caudill said he believes the tests actually help the studentsresist peer pressure by providing a reason to reject drugs thatother students can both understand and accept.

“I think it reduces or eliminates the peer pressure,” he said.”When these students are provided with a choice, it gives them theopportunity to say no and resist the peer pressure.”

Parents may also voluntarily submit their children for the nexttest cycle, Caudill said. He can’t, though, tell them when thattest may be.

Davis is the only person in the district who has previousknowledge of when a test will be administered, Caudill said. Thesuperintendent and principals are notified the morning of the testand students are summoned to the school’s gymnasium fortesting.

The students receive a quick briefing on how to conduct the testand then released in small groups to the restrooms, where they aremonitored by coaches or members of the 14th Judicial District DrugCourt.

Don Lindley, a drug court employee, supervises the process. Hesaid the court had been administering drug tests for about sixyears and testing in public schools for the past three years. Thecourt tests more than 12,000 samples annually.

The testing cycle can take several days to a week, he said.Although the sample is analyzed within four hours, it may take afew days to have the test results officially approved.

“We take the sample and run it on the analyzer,” Lindley said.”The results are given to a doctor, who reviews every test, whetherpositive or negative, and he notifies the school.”

A positive result, Davis said, results in immediate suspensionof extracurricular activities for a minimum of two contests. Thestudent remains suspended until a negative result is obtained.Also, once a student gets a positive result, they are automaticallyincluded on every subsequent test until graduation.

A second positive result means a suspension for at least eightcontests while a third results in suspension for the rest of theyear. In the event of a fourth positive result, the student isbanned from participation in extracurricular activities.

“It has no effect on academics at all,” Davis said. “Onlyextracurricular activities are affected.”