Auburn school board discusses drug testing policy, parents raise - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Auburn school board discusses drug testing policy, parents raise concerns

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - "Just Say Know," is the slogan residents with children in the Auburn City School system are using to voice their concern about the proposed Extracurricular Substance Abuse Policy.

"If somebody has a problem with drugs, we want then to feel safe going to the authority figures, not threatened by them," explains Christine Shumock, a parent against the policy.

The policy means students in grades seven through 12 who participate in any competitive extracurricular activities would be subject to mandatory random drug testing. 

"We want to make sure that our kids have one more way to say no and kids are more likely to tell peers that they don't want to lose their place on the team, or let my team down at the next competition," explains Superintendent, Dr. Karen DeLano. 

There are roughly 3,500 students who participate in competitive activities and the testing will cost the school system about $25,000 each year. 

"We are spending $25,000 per year to test students when we could be channeling more productive things like allowing students not to pay fees for academic classes. That would support a more supportive and enriching environment," says Shumock.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, DeLano presented policy changes to the board.

The changes include that a first time violation would prohibit students from participating in 20 percent of scheduled competition time, eliminating blood sample testing, and a reimbursement to parents if a second test differs from the first test.

"When students are competing and traveling, they are affecting other students and we want them all to be safe. So it affects more than just themselves," explains DeLano.

Those opposed reference a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The group released a statement saying it "opposes randomly drug testing students because there's not enough evidence to show it's effective, and because random testing can damage relationships between students and their schools."

"The concern is an ineffective use of money, It is not helpful for kids and it creates a negative environment," says Shumock.

The board did not take action on the policy Tuesday.

The policy and a survey can be found at www.auburnschools.org.

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