The Commerce Journal

May 28, 2013

Details of drug testing policy yet to be finalized

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — The Commerce Independent School District Board is planning on implementing a mandatory drug-testing program for students, although the specifics of the policy have yet to be ironed out.

CISD Superintendent Blake Cooper said it is a random system and will only include a pool of students who are in extracurricular activities such as sports, band and other UIL events.

According to Cooper, the system would pull random student ID numbers every month to be tested.

Before serving as superintendent at CISD, Cooper workedl in Edgewood, where he also implemented a drug testing policy. He said, at first, many of the parents had concerns about the system being truly random, but near the end of his tenure there he said most parents opted to have their children tested.

“The initial concern was that we were going to pick out certain students, but, by the time we left, 95 percent of kids were in the pool,” he said. “Those parents used it to help their kid keep in line.”

CISD Board President Willie Blow said although he is not against drug testing, he is against testing without probable cause.

“I am against mandatory drug testing without probable cause,” he said, adding that it seems to him to be a guilty until proven innocent procedure.

According to Cooper, under the policy, if a student tests positive for drug use, the first offense is a six-to-nine-week probation from extracurricular activities; the second is one full year from programs and the third is a bar for the remainder of the student’s high school career.

Since the policy would include CMS students as well, the board discussed whether a student who tested positive in middle school would have that carry over to high school.

Randy Starks, secretary for the CISD School Board, said the testing should be more lenient on middle school students since children can develop maturity wise from middle to high school.

“I would be comfortable with a kid being given the opportunity to be in the program that will be tested in high school,” he said. “I’d hate to see kids not given an opportunity in high school.”

Cooper said the most important aspect of the program is to give a student who is asked to do drugs another reason to say no.

“The whole purpose of doing this is to give kids an outlet, a chance to say ‘no’,” he said.

The board is expected to hold a vote on the policy during the June 17 meeting.