• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff 16

Drug testing policy for students being explored

Woodford County Public Schools has begun the process of exploring its options to implement a random drug testing policy for students, according to schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins. "We're still in the preliminary stages, (but) I think we'll be able to move fairly quickly once we get (legally acceptable) language" for a drug testing policy from our board attorney, said Hawkins during a telephone interview on Monday morning. Policy language reviewed by the school board's attorney will be presented to the local board for further review before any decisions are made regarding the implementation of a drug testing policy for students in Woodford County schools, said Hawkins. He said he's hopeful a policy could be enacted by the local Board of Education as early as this fall, but decisions related to what groups of students are subject to random drug testing must still be addressed. Most drug testing policies in other Kentucky school districts include students who participate in athletics, according to Hawkins. He said student drivers and students involved in co-curricular activities have also been subject to random drug testing in other school districts, which have sometimes included middle school students. "That's going to really be up to what the board would like to do," said Hawkins. "I do think we want to try to be as inclusive as possible ... whatever groups (of students) we can include, we would more than likely include." Hawkins added that he doesn't want to single out one particular group of students. Hawkins said any drug testing policy should include "a strong educational component," but said that does not mean a student wouldn't face a consequence for a decision to use drugs. For example, he said a student may not participate in a co-curricular activity or may lose driving privileges for a period of time if he or she tests positive. When asked about the rationale behind implementing a drug policy, Hawkins said, "Schools are a microcosm of society. If we can give kids a reason to say, 'no,' then should we do it?" A drug testing policy will also help prepare students for what they'll face after they leave high school "because there's a lot of employers out there now that do the random drug testing," Hawkins said. "We as a school district need to do everything we can," he added, "to ensure that we're trying to keep kids from going down that path, and helping them make good decisions..." The Kentucky School Boards Association was contacted earlier in the process to give Hawkins and other district administrators some background knowledge on random drug testing policies in other school districts, according to Hawkins.

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