Drug testing plan could go into effect next year - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Drug testing plan could go into effect next year

November 19, 2007

Tifton - Some Tift County students may soon have to submit to drug tests if they want to play sports or take part in other extra-curricular activities.

The Tift County School Board is considering a proposal to institute random drug testing for 7th through 12th graders who participate in voluntary school activities.

Tift County High School football coach Jay Walls is worried about drug use among athletes. He took his concern to Superintendent Patrick Atwater, and administrators drew up a drug testing policy.

"Coach Walls' concern was specifically dealing with student athletes. As superintendent we took his concern and have expanded that to all students in grade 7 through 12 currently participating in extracurricular activities," said Atwater.

Right now, the proposal only covers drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, but it could be expanded to include steroids. Twenty-percent of students who participate in voluntary school activities would be randomly chosen to take the drug tests.

"Our objective here is to deter illicit drugs from our students. This is definitely not a manhunt. I think this something that will hold our students accountable, and hold parents accountable for keeping up with their childs lifestyle and what they do outside of school," said Athletic Director Mike Collier.

Many parents, like Sharon Robinson, think the proposal is a good idea. "I think it's important that they do the random testing because the drugs are so bad in our community, that maybe it would defer other students from bringing drugs to school or using them."

Now while it may be next school year before the mandatory drug testing is in place, there are currently sanctions in the talks for students that violate the drug policy. This could potentially effect hundreds of students from those with parking permits to those that participate in athletic activities.

"There will be repercussions as punishments are levied from their extracurricular activities. But academically, there will be no punishments levied to a student. They will not be removed from school, nothing of that fashion would occur if the students were found to have a positive drug test," said the superintendent.

The initial proposal still under review, but supporters hope it will eventually help make Tift County schools drug free.

Even if the county were to pass the consolidated charter on to the voters... there's still a lot of work to be done.

City commissioners would also have to vote on the issue.

The Department of Justice and the General Assembly would also have to sign off on the plan before it would appear on the ballot.

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