DECATUR (CBSDFW.COM) – Playing a sport, playing in the band, even a permit to park a car, will require middle and high school students in Decatur to agree to random drug testing.
Following a pilot program that will begin for volunteers this spring, the testing will be mandatory in the 2020-21 school year for any students who elect to participate in extracurricular activities.
It is expected to test for marijuana, amphetamines and opioids, as well as nicotine. Positive tests will result in administrative and parent notification, leading to counseling and education. Additional positive tests could carry penalties connected to the student’s extracurricular activities, but no notification will be made to state agencies or law enforcement.
The Decatur Independent School Board approved the testing program this week, which Superintendent Joe Coburn said was partially impacted by concerns over student vaping.
“It’s dangerous all by itself,” he said. “Just vaping, nicotine vaping. And then what we know everywhere, is there are vaping devices that have something other than nicotine in them.”
Coburn compared the requirement to students having to receive a physical exam before participating in sports.
He also said the goal was not to catch or punish students, but give them a tool they could use to avoid being pressured into participating in drug use.
“That might help you make better choices. That might keep you safe. Might inform a parent of something they had no idea was going on. And if we can do that, that’s the partnership we want to build,” he said.
Coburn anticipates costs for testing and counseling to run around $20,000. He estimated as many as 75-percent of the district’s 1,600 secondary students could be subject to the new rule when it goes into effect.