Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

1,400 Face Drug Tests; Camden Considers Athletes, Band, Others for Screening Starting in Seventh Grade

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

1,400 Face Drug Tests; Camden Considers Athletes, Band, Others for Screening Starting in Seventh Grade

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

KINGSLAND -- As many as 1,400 students in Camden County could be tested for drugs at the beginning of the next school year if the school board approves a new policy next month.

The proposal calls for mandatory drug testing of all students in grades 7 or higher who participate in interscholastic activities such as competitive athletics, band and literary competitions sanctioned by the Georgia High School Association.

Testing would also be conducted on all high school students who apply for a permit to park on school property.

"There is a lot of peer pressure to use drugs," said Ann Proctor, superintendent of Camden County schools. "The main reason we're doing this is we don't want students using drugs."

The proposal also calls for random testing for illicit and pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol and steroids throughout the school year, Proctor said.

Testing would cost the school district $22 per student, Proctor said. But the cost rises to $35 when a student fails the drug test because the results go though more testing to make sure they are accurate, she said.

It would cost more than $30,000 for initial testing when the next school year begins in August.

School administrators said they got the idea from other districts in the state with similar testing programs.

Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, said he didn't know how many school districts test for drugs because the state is not keeping track.

It's unclear how much it would cost for testing throughout the school year because the number of tests would be determined case by case, school officials said.

Students failing a first drug test would be required to attend a conference with the school principal and the activity coach or sponsor. The student and parents would also be required to attend a specified number of counseling sessions, with further testing throughout the school year.

A second violation would result in a 45-day suspension from interscholastic activities and/or parking privileges. A third violation would result in suspension from same for one year.

School officials said they don't know if the drug counselors would be full-time employes or subcontracted until it's determined how many students fail testing. …

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