Obion County Board of Education
March 7, 2011

Agenda Item: VII.A.

Consider/Approve Amendment to Board Policy #6.3071 – Student Alcohol and Drug Testing

Background Information:

On September 7, 2010, the Board approved, on first reading, an amendment to Board Policy #6.3071 which would allow random drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities. The Board further declared that specific guidelines shall be met as stated in TCA §49-6-4213 and the effective date of policy change would be July 1, 2011. At the October 4, 2010 meeting, a motion was made and properly seconded to table the second reading of the amendment to Board Policy #6.3071 until further study was performed. Additionally, the Board suggested that the Board’s student representative conduct a poll among students to get input from a student’s perspective. The Board's current policy is attached for your information and reference.

The student bodies of Obion County Central and South Fulton High Schools were surveyed to provide input on the issue of random drug testing and the survey results are attached. Nearly 62% of the students answering the survey approved the practice of randomly drug testing students who are involved in extra-curricular activities.

Additionally, Mr. Hollowell has obtained several price quotations on how much would need to be budgeted to conduct random drug testing. Based on 1,000 students participating, testing 10% at a time, five (5) times during a school year, the funds needed would be less than $10,000 annually. Therefore, the cost of the tests is not a significant issue. We are currently negotiating a price per test with Union City Baptist Hospital. Whomever we contract with, that entity will be responsible for the random selection of students, collecting the specimen, testing, and delivering the results as specified in the administrative procedure.

I have contacted the Department of Education’s staff attorney and was advised that our school counselors could do the initial consultation if they had the knowledge to properly counsel and assess alcohol and drug related issues. Ms. Heather Kendall’s training is in dealing with alcohol and drug related issues. We are continuing to inquire as to the cost of services after the initial consultation. In addition, personnel from Obion County Central and South Fulton High Schools met to address procedures that comply with TCA §49-6-4213 and the administrative procedure is attached. As the Board heard at its February meeting, all coaches and extracurricular sponsors are in favor of the random drug testing policy and administrative procedure.

At the Board’s regularly scheduled February meeting, a motion was made and properly seconded to remove the tabled item for further discussion. After full discussion, the Board made a motion that was properly seconded to include on the March agenda the second and final reading of the amendment to Board Policy #6.3071 – Student Alcohol and Drug Testing. The amendment to policy would read as follows:

Due to the severity of the alcohol/drug use problem, both locally and throughout the State, students in grades nine through twelve (9 – 12) involved in any voluntary extracurricular activity, including driving an automobile onto the school’s campus, shall be subject to random drug/alcohol tests. Parents and students will be informed of this policy prior to participation and shall sign a consent to the random drug/alcohol testing and a release of information as a condition of participation.

To recap the actions of September 7, 2010, The Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) has recommended changes to Board Policy #6.3071 – Student Alcohol and Drug Testing, and this change reflects the latest legislative action. Public Chapter 1136 authorizes school districts to enact a random drug testing policy for all extracurricular activities. All changes to the policy occur on page 2, as supplemented above.

Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt, a law firm from Memphis, sent an email that adequately describes random drug testing for extracurricular activities. Public Chapter 1136, effective July 1, 2010, amends TCA §49-6-4213 to allow random testing of students who participate in voluntary extracurricular activities.

The test must meet four standards to be considered reasonable. It must:

  1. Show the student violated school policy or was or was not impaired by drugs;
  2. Serve legitimate school interests such as safety, order, discipline or education;
  3. Not be conducted solely to discover evidence for criminal prosecution; and,
  4. Be witnessed by a person permitted by board policy to witness the test.

The district must have a policy that includes:

  1. Authorization for the random testing of students who participate in voluntary extracurricular activities;
  2. Procedures to ensure that students who test positive receive an assessment to determine the severity of the student's problem and a recommendation for referral to intervention or treatment resources as appropriate; and,
  3. Designation of persons who are permitted to serve as witnesses to the testing.

A student may not be suspended or expelled solely as a result of a positive test.

The school/district must:

  1. Notify the parent or legally responsible adult before the test is administered;
  2. Notify parents or guardians that students may be randomly tested and obtain their written consent for random testing prior to student's participation in voluntary extracurricular activity;
  3. Pay for all testing, supply all testing materials, and supply any subsequent counseling; and,
  4. Treat as confidential all records of the test, the request for a test, or any indication that the student was tested.

Staff Recommendation:

I recommend approval of Board Policy #6.3071 – Student Alcohol and Drug Testing, on second and final reading.