The decision of whether or not to drug test student athletes and students in clubs remains up in the air.
Halifax County School Board decided not to take any action on the matter Monday evening after Jeff Davis, director of student services and accountability, presented a draft of a “random student drug testing regulation.”
The draft describes a student participant as “any ninth through 12th grade student enrolled in Halifax County Public Schools participating in any Virginia High School League event or other sport as an established athlete or eligible participant at the junior varsity or varsity level or a member of any extracurricular school club or organization.”
The extracurricular activity may not be linked to an academic grade, as stated in the draft.
The board ultimately decided not to take any action after the board could not agree on punishment or if the drug testing procedure is necessary.
As stated in the current draft regulation, the first offense calls for a minimum of 20-day suspension.
“I would be strongly opposed to any regulation that did not have a minimum ban of at least that semester,” said ED-2 Trustee Roy Keith Lloyd.
He said students have been removed from a team for an entire season for other offenses.
But Dr. Mark Lineburg, superintendent, said it is best to specify a certain number of days because it’s uncertain when a student would be caught using an illegal substance.
Meanwhile, Sandra Garner Coleman, vice chairman, called the procedure a “waste,” and said she would prefer to see the money go to educating students about substances.
“I could see this turning into a real circus,” said Coleman.
She questioned whether the board is “speculating” on which students are drug users and noted the few disciplinary cases dealing with athletes using drugs.
ED-6 trustee Todd Moser was quick to point out this draft does not single out athletes but includes other extracurricular activities.
Former board chairman Joe Gasperini pointed out it would be naïve of the board to think there is no drug use among students at Halifax County High School since there are drugs in the community.
He said performing random drug tests could be a “preventive measure.”
The board ultimately decided not to take any action on the regulation Monday evening, and Davis told the board the earliest this could be implemented is for winter sports.
In other action Monday evening, the board unanimously agreed to follow the recommendation by the transportation committee to follow the specifications they set for bidders for buses.
The approved notice of instructions of bidders is for 77 passenger propane powered buses that are a 2021 model year or newer.
It also states the company must provide Mobile Tech, on-site training and a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. The company also will have 120 days to deliver buses.
“This is rock solid and for our benefit, not the vendor’s benefit,” said ED-7 trustee Monty Lowery.
Board members also agreed to first check with local banks to see if they could finance the buses before looking elsewhere.
The board also took the following actions Monday evening:
• Authorized the superintendent to move forward with gathering more information about the possibility of hiring a full-time individual as a safety and security coordinator;
• Heard the required notifications annual report from Valdivia Hall, assistant superintendent; and
• Heard a report from students Aaliyah Paige, Jadyn Harlow, Mia Lewis and Brooklyn Morton and teachers Wendy Hall and Kimberly Gordon on the organization Comets Care.
Comets Care is dedicated to educating students about substance abuse and helping with mental health.