THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - One South Georgia high school recently implemented a policy to drug test its students.
Any student in the Thomasville City Schools district involved in an interscholastic competition is eligible for random drug tests.
The drug-testing policy is geared toward ensuring the safety of the students, while educating them about the dangers, according to Chris Merritt, Thomasville High School athletic director.
“If this policy saves one child’s life, then it’s a good policy,” said Merritt.
Merritt said he believes in this plan because of a personal experience he had with an former athlete who battled with drug addiction but there was no policy in place to help save him.
"Two years later after he graduates, he dies from a drug overdose. That has always stuck with me,” said Merritt.
Within the policy, any student who participates in interscholastic competition is subject to the random drug-testing.
Merritt said he agrees with this because each student who represents the school should be held to a high standard.
Merritt also stressed that the goal of this plan is not to punish the student who fails the drug test, but to help them.
"The first consequence is counseling. You know, we identify a kid it’s automatic counseling,” said Merritt.
Merritt said the drug-testing is completed by Archbold Memorial Hospital and the identity of the student is never revealed. If a student continually fails, the consequences get worse.
"If they fail the drug test then its an automatic one year suspension,” Merritt said of repeated offenses.
Merritt said this policy should be perceived as a benefit to the student because the school’s motive is not to punish anyone.