New Albany-Floyd County school board approves plan to drug test - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New Albany-Floyd County school board approves plan to drug test students

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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Drug testing is coming for thousands of southern Indiana students. 

New Albany-Floyd County's seven member school board passed a measure to implement the procedure 5-0 at a board meeting Monday night; two board members were absent. The proposal will require drug tests to be administered if there is "reasonable suspicion" a student is under the influence.

Here’s how it works

The policy says "reasonable suspicion" includes a student's behavior, if they're caught with drugs or alcohol, or if administrators get a tip that a student has used or is under the influence.

Some say it could prevent peer pressure or help parents spot dangerous warning signs.

"They won't be tempted to take any drugs because they can always say ‘hey, we have a policy now and maybe I better not do that’" said NAFCS Board President Becky Gardenour.

The policy would apply on school grounds, at school sponsored events, or on district transportation.  The drug tests would be administered by a law enforcement officer, administrator or health care professional.

"Yes it has come out that our county does have a drug problem with illegal drugs and illegal prescriptions and so this is to help the kids get some treatment," said Gardenour.

The new policy will require students to take a breath, saliva, blood or urine test.

Following a positive test for drugs or alcohol, students will be disciplined -- for example students at New Albany High School could be suspended up to five days for the first offense and up 10 days for the second pending expulsion (according to the student handbook).

If a student refuses to take the test, or their parents will not allow it, the district may treat that as a positive test.

Board members say the new rule is more about helping than hurting.

“It was early identification of kids that might be struggling with substance abuse and the purpose is so we can identify it early and get them resources if they have an addiction," said board member LeeAnn Wiseheart.

Parents voice concerns

"I think it is very important, the drug use in our community has gotten out of hand," parent Deana Coleman said before the meeting. 

Coleman also has two students in the school system and believes the proposal could help parents who don't know their children are using drugs and alcohol.

"I would just like to better understand how the teachers and staff would be trained that that is suspicious," Ann Brown said before the meeting. She has two children at New Albany High School. "Because sometimes I know we have additional context in situations and the child could be on medication."

Brown is not against drug testing but she has questions about how and who will administer the drug and alcohol tests.

"Just, how they would be trained? What would be designated as reasonable suspicion and then also how they would involve the school resource officer as well as parents," she explained.  

"A lot of times you can't tell when your children are on it until it gets too late and you start noticing that they're grades are dropping and their personalities are changing," Coleman said.

Becky Gardenour is president of the New Albany-Floyd County School Board and says the proposal would involve anyone under the influence or in possession of drugs at school events, but she also says it is not just about punishing students.

"The research shows that there is a problem with drugs and alcohol in Floyd County and so we want to be proactive," Gardenour said before the meeting. "If it does come out positive, what we want to do is that the student will be referred to some type of counseling program."

The policy may be in effect but the board still needs to figure out things like how it will be implemented, where they'll buy the kits, and whether parents always have to be called before a test.

Those answers should be finalized by December.

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