Since January, any Halifax County High School student who chooses to participate in extracurricular activities not required for graduation has been required to participate in a random drug test.
The Halifax County School Board authorized the drug testing in September after months of discussion even though the board was divided on the issue.
The board plans to hear an update from Supervisor of Student Services Jeff Davis on the drug testing when they meet for their monthly meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the Halifax County High School cafeteria.
He first brought the idea of “Interscholastic Program Random Drug Testing” to the board in March with the idea of testing students who participate in Virginia High School League activities, which includes athletes and other academic teams such as ACE.
The policy was expanded to include extracurricular organizations, which is “any sport, club, organization or activity that is not linked to an academic grade but that is under the purview of Halifax County Public Schools.”
The board had discussed price, consequences and other concerns about speculating which students are using drugs for a few months before approving the drug testing.
Davis said the cost will be anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 and is based off of 10% of the participation.
As stated in the approved regulation, in order to participate in a sport, or club, students and their parent or guardian must consent to random drug testing, drug testing due to reasonable suspicion and voluntary student or parent disclosure of drug use.
Once a student and parent consents to the drug testing, he or she will remain eligible for testing through the end of his or her sport or extracurricular activity season. If a student chooses to withdraw from the sport or club, he or she will no longer be subject to random drug testing.
The company chosen to administer the tests will receive the Virginia High School League Master Eligibility List identifying all sports players and a copy of the membership roster for all HCPS authorized clubs. Names will be put into a computer to be randomly selected.
Drug testing will be performed by collecting a saliva sample, and students will be tested for marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, opiates, cocaine, methamphetamines, anabolic steroids, phencyclidine, MDMA and/or any other substance defined as a “controlled substance” by either Virginia or federal law.
If a test is positive, the student will be suspended from activities for a minimum of 30 days. Administration will then conduct a screening interview with the student and parents where an intervention program will be imposed.
The student and parents must submit to the intervention program at their expense.
After the 30-day suspension, the student will be tested again, and must agree, along with his or her parent, to regular testing for the remainder of the activity or season.
Once a student has completed the intervention program and passed the second drug test, the student will be provided with a letter of reinstatement and is then eligible to resume participation.
However, it is noted in the regulation it is up to the head coach or sponsor to determine when a student is ready to resume full participation.
If a student has a second offense, he or she will be suspended from school for 90 days, will adhere to an intervention program and be subject to additional testing.
If a student has a third offense, he or she will be suspended from having any further participation in the sport or extracurricular activity while enrolled at HCPS.
The board also is slated to complete the following:
• Hear citizen comments from Don Wright;
• Receive recognitions for Virginia School Board Association board appreciation month;
• Recognize the board clerk and deputy clerk for VSBA school board clerk and deputy clerk appreciation week;
• Receive a student-learning spotlight from high school students;
• Recognize Miss Fraley for the electoral board;
• Recognize Eli Evan and Rick Burner of Propel GPS;
• Hear a truancy report from Davis and truancy officer Chris Brown;
• Hear a report from Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg about a high school innovation grant;
• Hear an announcement about the joint facilities committee meeting;
• Revisit the capital improvement plan presented last month by the superintendent and director of maintenance and operations Steve Brumfield;
• Consider adding a board member to the subcommittee for school planning;
• Review a teacher salary comparison presented by finance director Robert Aylor;
• Consider approval of school board norms and protocols;
• Consider proposed school board goals; and
• Review information about a surplus sale.
Board members also are expected to enter into closed session at the end of the meeting to review personnel matters and contracts.