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July 19, 2013

West Central approves drug testing

Counselor: Saying 'don't do drugs' doesn't work

Randomized drug testing for students in grades six to 12 was approved by the West Central School Board July 11.

The program will be mandatory for West Central School Corporation students who are in athletics, driver education, extracurricular activities, curriculum-related activities or drive a motorized vehicle to school, the drug testing policy states.

Although other local schools have randomized drug testing, it is rare to have them at that age level, according to Kathy Coffing, addictions counselor at Four County Counseling Center. She called it preventative.

“Kudos to them,” Coffing said. “They’re setting a precedent. I think they’ll be surprised by the results.”

Testing will begin in September and eight to 12 students will be tested per month during the school year, according to Charles Mellon, West Central School Corporation superintendent. The tests can cost $22 to $25 per test, which is upwards of $2,800 to $3,000 a year, Mellon said.

They are hoping to get a grant through Pulaski County Drug Free Council.

“Basically, by implementing the program, we are probably catching up with the rest of the athletic conference schools,” Mellon said. “We were one of the last schools in the conference to approve a policy.”

Although they don’t have a contract yet, they will probably use Indiana Testing for the drug tests, he said. Indiana Testing is already connected with the school corporation through a contract they have to perform drug, alcohol testing on corporation bus drivers.

If Indiana Testing is used, the company will assign numbers to students so the process is confidential, Mellon said.

If a student fails the test, there will be various punishments depending on the situation and offense. The school’s drug testing policy, including punishments, will be added to the school’s website soon, Mellon said. Some of the punishments include going to counseling.

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