During the April 12th monthly School Board meeting, the board received a presentation from the Youth Advocacy and Prevention (YAP) team regarding random drug testing of students involved in extra-curricular activities. The YAP team consists of 2 teachers, 9 administrators, 2 administrators/parents, 2 coaches/parents, 1 additional parent, 1 social worker, 2 law enforcement staff, and 1 law enforcement/School Board member/parent, all active within RCPS. The presentation identified 4 counties in the commonwealth that are participating in random drug testing programs to dissuade the use of drugs and/or alcohol within the student body.
Data gathered from all of our students in 2013 revealed the following information. Grades 6 and 7 students reported 0% use of alcohol or tobacco in the past 30 days; students in grade 8 reported 5% (approx. 3 students) used alcohol and/or tobacco in the past 30 days; students in grades 8/9 reported 5% (approx. 6 students) used marijuana in the past 30 days, and students in grades 11/12 reported that 23% to 38% (approx. 35 students) had used tobacco, alcohol, or drugs in the past 30 days. (Which of the three substances used was not distinguished in the presentation.) The program aims to curtail illegal activity via student awareness of the potential of random drug testing. Due to a Supreme Court decision only students involved in extra-curricular activities are allowed to be tested.
Much debate among board members resulted in a divided board that desired to hear from a larger group than that represented by the YAP team. The YAP team expected to have a town hall meeting if the board agreed to further discuss the program. A town hall is being scheduled to occur prior to the end of the school year. At the town hall there will be a presentation followed by a question and answer period. The school board will be present in order to gain a broader understanding of the community’s opinion.
If you cannot attend, please let your School Board representative know your thoughts regarding this potential new program becoming active within our schools.
provided by Wesley Mills, School Board Chairman, Amissville
Editor’s note: A second article on this topic, from a non-school board member, is here.
Editor’s note 2: Per Jimmy Swindler of RCHS, “Rappahannock County Public Schools staff and community members of the Youth Advocacy and Prevention team will hold an informational meeting concerning drug and alcohol testing for students involved in competitive extracurricular activities. The meeting will begin at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, May 4 in the Rappahannock County High School Auditorium. The public is invited to attend.”
Editor’s note 3: The NIH has posted a useful and informative Q&A on drug testing in schools. It can be found here.