School Drug Testing Is Recommended

Daily Globe Staff Reporter

SHELBY- Shelby High School Principal John Gies discussed the revised Athletic Code of Conduct and Student Drug Testing Policy with board members and administration during Monday night's regular school board meeting.

Gies expressed his gratitude to the committees who were a part of the revised policy.

"We had great conversations and there were students, parents, teachers, and a number of people involved in this. We had two goals and one of our goals was to revise our athletic training rules and the other was looking at the implementation of a drug testing policy," Gies said.

"We made some changes to the training rules. This was tough and a lot of work has gone into this," Gies stated.

Gies explained the overall idea was to come up with a code of conduct for all extracurricular activities.

"What you see in here ( in the policy) is anything from student council, drivers to school, Whippet Theatre, and sports. It covers a lot of activities," Gies expressed.

Gies explained one of the reasons why the drug testing policy is moving forward is because of the drug issues in the community.

"I don't think it is a secret that there is a drug issue here in the city. If you have a drug issue in town, then you will have a drug issue in the school. There is no way around it and so we are looking at ways that we can try and help students," Gies reported.

"We have gone into this from the beginning that this was not an 'I got you' plan. Our goal is to help students. If a student has an issue and they have a problem with using, we want to help them," Gies said.

However, Gies stated if a student happens to be using drugs, there will be consequences to follow if the student wants to take part in extracurricular activities at school.

"The thought was if you (student) know we are going to drug test and you still use, then you probably have a problem. That is where we want to come in and help," Gies said.

The drug testing company which Shelby will work with to perform the random tests is Great Lakes Biomedical.

Gies explained Great Lakes Biomedical will handle all of the testing the school will have no involvement with the random selection of students from the pool to be tested.

Something else which was added to the policy was self referral, according to Gies.

"This is a one time shot all through high school. You can come to us and say I am referring myself because if I were to get drug tested today I would not make it. There are some restrictions that go with that, but in that case, if you come to us, we are going to work with you to get some assessment and counseling. In that case, there is no punishment as far as playing time or working with a group. We will work with you through that one time. That is essentially what we want is for kids to come to us and say they need some help," Gies expressed.

Gies reported the training rules were viewed and adjustments were made.

"Extracurricular, including athletics, are a privilege and not a right. They can be taken away if the student chooses to not follow the rules. We made some changes to our penalties as well," Gies stated.

"The first offense would be loss of your athletics for your career. However, if the student says they will get an assessment or counseling and follow through, the first offense will be reduced down to only 30 percent loss of season. This is a way where they can get some help and there is still punishment that goes with it. Also, the student will not be randomly tested at that point. We will tell them 'you are being tested'," Gies said.

If a student has a second offense, Gies reported the student would lose their athletics for their career. However, if the student agrees to counseling then their punishment will be losing their athletics for one calendar year.

"It is more severe in some cases, but we are giving you the opportunity to get some help and work your way back," Gies said.

If a student gets caught a third time, Gies explained the student will not be permitted to participate in athletics for the remainder of their career.

"If you get caught a third time, you've decided drugs are more important and that is what you want," Gies said.

Gies reported the training rules would be implemented year round.

"We have the option in the building to do drug testing in the summer if we need to. Once a student signs the consent form, they are in the pool for testing. The code of conduct does come into play year round," Gies said.

School Superintendent Tim Tarvin asked if the policy were to pass in an upcoming meeting, when would the new rules go into effect.

"The new code of conduct would take effect the day the board approves it. We would start the process of getting the rules out to those teams which have already started. For instance, volleyball has most of their coaching days in July. We would get information to them and get their consent forms back. We would start the process of getting information to them, and this includes drivers," Gies said.

Gies explained the code of conduct would go into place when the student begins their workouts with that sport.

"Fall sports don't start until August 1, but they are doing coaching days in July. There is a possibility a student wouldn't be in the pool until their sport starts and drivers are also in the pool to be tested," Gies said.

Gies also explained parents have the option to potentially opt their child into the random drug testing pool if their child doesn't drive or participate in extracurricular activities through the school.

"Parents have the option to opt their child into the program and it doesn't cost anything extra. They (the parent) just need to tell us they want to add their child into the pool," Gies said.

Moving ahead, Gies explained the goal is to work with parents and community members.

"We want to try to find things for kids to do and we are going to ask the community for a lot of help. Our goal is to help kids and we want our students to be drug free. Hopefully we can help some students because that is the ultimate goal," Gies shared.

Gies explained the revised copy was available for board members to review. The copy was presented for board members to view, but not to vote on during the meeting on Monday night.

Tarvin stated the policy would either be voted on during the June or July board meeting.

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