Milford students to face aggressive drug policy

July 28th, 2006    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

The school year following an undercover drug bust that netted several student arrests in Milford Schools, students will return to class to find random drug testing and other anti-substance abuse policies a part of the daily routine. Valerie Miller, Communications Coordinator for Milford Schools, said that the random testing will target mainly students to participate in after school programs, such as sports, as well as students who wish to drive to school.

“What the policy does is involve extra curricular and co-curricular activities and students who request a parking permit,” said Miller. “Each student involved in those activities need to have their parents sign a form giving the district permission to perform the random testing on that child. Once those letters are in place, a computer program will randomly assign them a number, and that program will then randomly select numbers to test.”

According to the policy, revised on July 20, the new measure will randomly test any student who signs the form and participates in extra curricular activities or applies to park. Should students opt to refuse to sign the document permitting the random tests, that student will be automatically barred from participation in extra curriculars or applying for a driving permit.

The policy also provides program directors, athletic directors, building principals and the superintendent with the authority to order a test on a particular student should they have “reasonable suspicion of a violation.” Otherwise, the testing is expected to be done weekly, anonymously and through the use of computers.

“Once that’s in place and the students have a number, then they will proceed with selecting the number and having the students take part in the testing,” said Miller. “How long it will take to have that put in place, I’m not for sure. This will obviously not be something for the first week of school, it will take some time.”

Last year, Milford Schools made headlines when an undercover woman infiltrated a drug ring in the high school and exposed the operation. In all, 17 students were arrested in the operation, with only four being aged at 18 or older. This random testing, said Miller, is designed to help students avoid the social taboo of resisting drugs offered by friends.

“This is part of a continuing effort by the board to combat drug use in the community,” said Miller. “What the board intends with this policy is arm students with a firm way to say no. There is too much at risk for students involved with sports, band or who want to drive to school to risk them possibly losing out on that by using drugs. The hope of the board will be to give the students a stronger way to resist these temptations.”

When selected, students will be required to give a urine sample for testing. In all, about 10 percent of the affected students will be tested each week. The students will be monitored while providing the sample, and the sample will be sent to a lab for the testing. Should a positive outcome be reached, the sample will be re-tested to ensure accuracy. After a definitive positive for drugs is reached, that student will be banned from extra curricular activities or from parking, but will not be expelled or suspended from school. The results would also be kept from law enforcement. Records will be kept on the testing, but would be destroyed within a year of the student leaving the Milford Schools.

“At that point, the student would lose that privilege for the rest of the season,” said Miller. “If it’s a student playing a sport, they would be kicked off that team for the season. Our parking permits are given out on a seasonal basis as well, so they would lose that as well. This doesn’t impact attendance at school. There isn’t a suspension or expulsion or any reporting to law enforcement.”

Also adopted on July 20 were two other policies providing for random drug searches and breathalyzer tests. In all, the policies have received little feedback or protest, suggesting that parents are, overall, in support of the effort. What little feedback that’s been given, said Miller, is mainly from drug testing companies wishing to win a contract for the service. The cost to the system is expected to be negligible, as a federal grant will pay for the testing process.

“We think maybe our parents and community accept this,” said Miller. “There has not been a huge response. The price for testing is all covered through a federal drug-free grant.”

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