Escambia Student Drug Testing Plan Advances

January 19, 2011

The Escambia County School Board is moving forward toward a policy of random student drug testing next school year for students that take part in extracurricular activities or park on a school campus.

Tuesday night, school board members weighed in on the plan before voting unanimously to set a public hearing on February 17.

Jeff Bergosh, an outspoken proponent of the idea, said random drug tests would be part of a comprehensive plan to battle drug abuse in Escambia’s schools. “Will we win the war on drugs with this? I don’t think so,” Bergosh said. “But if we keep one student on the right path from making a wrong decision, it was worth it.”

Bill Slayton, District 5 board member, said he has concerns about testing middle school students due to their maturity level “handling the testing and the way it goes on”. He expressed concerns that young middle school students might not understand why they were singled out for testing. But Slayton said he supports the random drug tests at the high school level. “Anything we can do to make  a student think twice, I am all for,” he said.

Describing the random drugs test as a “hard thing to consider doing”,  Board member Patty Hightower said she believes the random testing will serve as a deterrent. She said that schools were being forced to step more and more into the role of parents.

“It is unfortunate that we are having to step more and more into the parental role and help the parents with these issues,” Linda Moultrie, District 3 member said. “We have to do our part as well. It is sad that we have to get to this point, but this is where we are in today’s times.”

Moultrie also expressed concern about students transitioning from elementary to middle school that could be effected by the tests.

Board Chairman Gerald Boone said, “we do have to take the role of parent in a lot that we do, sadly….if this policy can be yet another deterrent…to have a kid even think of trying it the first time, I think it’s great,” Boone said.

“If it just gives a reason to say ‘no’,” Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said Tuesday night that he supports the program, but does share some of the concerns about testing some of the younger students. “There may be some room there to carve out what we think is right,” he said. “It can be effective, and it will be a deterrent.”

The Proposed Plan:

Under the proposed policy first presented to the school board in December, students that participate in athletics, extracurricular activities or park on campus would be subject to the random urine tests. A signed parental consent form would be valid during the entire school year, not just for the duration of the athletic season or extracurricular activity period.

Students whose parents do not consent to the tests would not be allowed to participate in the activities — including any practice, tryout, rehearsal or even sit with the team, club or organization at a game or pep rally.

The drug tests will be conducted by the school health nurse or technician under the plan. If there is a positive result, the student would be required to take a follow-up drug test at a District-approved licensed laboratory within 24 hours. Failure to take the follow-up test would be considered a positive result, according to the proposed plan.

If a student refuses to participate in a random drug test, it will be considered a positive result.

A positive result would result in the student being removed from all extracurricular and athletic activities, including practices, for at least 30 days and would be suspended from driving on the school campus. The student would be referred to a District-approved drug assessment and rehabilitation program.

A student with a positive drug test result would be required to pass a second drug test before participation in future activities at the expense of their parents. They would be subject to additional random drug tests, and they would remain on probation for the rest of their school years in the Escambia County School District. The student would not be allowed to return to any leadership position — such as captain of a squad, club officer or class officer — for the remainder of the school year.

A second positive result would prohibit a student from participation in all athletics and extracurricular activities and from driving on campus for one full calendar year.

Before the random drug testing plan is implemented for the 2011-2012 school year, it must first be approved by the Escambia County School Board. That approval can come anytime after the February 17 public hearing.

(To read the full text of the proposed policy, click here.)


31 Responses to “Escambia Student Drug Testing Plan Advances”

  1. Heforthekids on April 3rd, 2012 7:52 pm

    I seeeeee a lot of people ignoring rights and ignoring our court system. I understand kids need guidance . But ignoring them their rights is a form of segregation. Does “innocent until proven guilty” ring a bell? I think this is kind of in nessecary I think it shouldn’t be on random , with sucpission I would understand. And with parental consent, without these the consequences are inevitable

  2. K-dizzle on January 23rd, 2011 1:13 am

    Man you people needs to just chill and roll a J jeez haha

  3. David Huie Green on January 22nd, 2011 11:38 am

    “If the urine is close to your body, it will read a high enough temp to pass the test, David.”

    Close enough, yes, but close enough would have to be closer than just one side on outside skin. Internal body temperature is quite a bit above external skin temperature, and again, the only way to even hope to do that would be to walk around with some spare urine strapped to you because they don’t tell folks, “Okay you have three hours to prepare for the drug test.” They do it right then with no warning, no time to go grab a clean sample.

    People stupid enough to drugs are unlikely to keep clean samples of urine on them all the time. Besides that urine degrades over time, so I imagine they could tell if it were a fresh sample or one from two days ago.

    I could be wrong, but just don’t see where witnesses would really be needed. For that matter I don’t see where universal testing is appropriate since it definitely assumes guilt. I think it’s a silly waste to require the Anime Club to be drug tested or the FFA or the chess club to join but even sillier to test all students.

    That’s why I say if you’re going to work from the assumption of guilt, you need to test everybody every day. Make them prove their innocence every day.

    David for stock in drug testing companies

  4. Just An Old Soldier on January 22nd, 2011 10:10 am

    Drugs (including Tobacco and Alcohol) and Children do not mix. Period.

    But Schools that attempt to take on a Parental Role usually fail miserably. And waste a lot of Taxpayer money in the process.

    I am in favor of random testing of our Armed Forces, our LEO’s, and Firemen – they have a great responsibility and trust. They need to be free of drugs.

    I am in favor of allowing Employers to randomly test their employees. It’s their business, so it’s their right to hire and employ a drug free workforce.

    I am in favor of allowing Parents to randomly test their children. They have a right to ensure that their children are drug free.

    I am in favor of allowing the School System to randomly test their employees, all of them from the top down. (See para on Employers above)

    I am NOT in favor of our School System replacing the Parental role and in the process wasting tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Taxpayer dollars in the process.

  5. Been there on January 22nd, 2011 9:59 am

    I’m right there with you, Cashcow. Since I have three kids still in school in Escambia County, that should be sufficient income to fund their educations AND cover my retirement! I owe them a debt of gratitude for such generous actions.

    I wonder why Mike doesn’t see the idiocy of such an idea.

  6. cashcow on January 22nd, 2011 6:26 am

    Thank you Escambia County school board, before this I wasn’t sure how I was going to fund my children’s college education. But after a couple lawsuits, I should have enough money for college, plus a little left over for momma to take a vacation.

  7. Cottage Hill Girl on January 21st, 2011 12:59 pm

    If the urine is close to your body, it will read a high enough temp to pass the test, David.

    Kids probably know more about these tests than the adults. They’re going to ace these tests and then laugh their butts off at the naive grownups who thought they were gonna bust them for a little weed. The only kids who are gonna get “busted” are the ones who get busted for taking prescription meds, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s NONE OF THE SCHOOL’S BUSINESS what my kids or anyone else’s kids have been prescribed. That is personal business and protected by HIPAA laws. This idiotic plan that so many are supporting is going to cost the school board MILLIONS in lawsuits because it will reveal information that is clearly covered by the HIPAA regulations. What dimwit is going to take the credit for this idea once the lawsuits start rolling in and the payouts start adding up? My guess: not a single one of them.

    If you wanna catch the kids, you’re gonna have to be a heck of a lot more inventive with your methods cause a simple pee test ain’t gonna get it! That’s one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a long time.

  8. T on January 21st, 2011 8:30 am

    Am I the only one who see’s this as fundamentally wrong. I understand drug testing in the work place as a safety measure. I take two or three a year and as a grown person It is very akward(a witness is required in our case). I can imagine what a kid would be thinking. Not saying I’ve got all the answers but in my opinion they’re fighting this thing from the wrong side.Step up the drug programs that are already in place with before and after pics of meth users, bring in former or current drug addicts to tell kids the horrible toll drugs have taken on their lives. Make sure they understand that if they choose to do drugs that it can and will have a negative impact on their lives. Make no mistake if we force kids into drug testing it’s going to backfire. Kids are rebellious at this age anyway. It doesn’t take much to turn them against authority as it is and assuming they are guilty until proven innocent is a sure fire way to do that very thing thus defeating the whole purpose.

  9. David Huie Green on January 20th, 2011 11:17 pm

    “If they don’t, then chances are that they will simply carry someone else’s urine in there with them and circumvent their “foolproof” way of finding out who does and who doesn’t. Again, what’s the point? These kids aren’t stupid! They can easily buy some urine from another kid who doesn’t do any drugs”

    Now as to the mechanics of the system, that’s simple enough. You pick someone and say NOW. You don’t have to watch them urinate for fear they would have someone else’s urine hidden on them. It wouldn’t work unless all potential subjects carried around a clean urine sample all the time. This is unlikely enough to reduce the need of a watcher.

    Further, they have a thermometer built in the side of the sample cups. Externally stored urine would be the wrong temperature. I can imagine how the male students could carry around their fake sample at an internal body temperature, but I can’t imagine them being comfortable doing it every day.

    David imagining how they would be walking

  10. Cottage Hill Girl on January 20th, 2011 9:04 pm

    The problem with that school of thought is that our Constitution grants us certain rights and our entire legal system is based on the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. So, you can’t presume their guilt and then test them to prove it.

    And, in order for the test to be legal, the person administering it has to actually see you go in the cup to make sure that you didn’t bring someone else’s in with you, so…..WHO is going to go in there with your child and watch? Are you giving them permission to go in the bathroom with your child? If they don’t, then chances are that they will simply carry someone else’s urine in there with them and circumvent their “foolproof” way of finding out who does and who doesn’t. Again, what’s the point? These kids aren’t stupid! They can easily buy some urine from another kid who doesn’t do any drugs. Wow, we just created quite a racket for some kids. They’ll make a fortune.

  11. David Huie Green on January 20th, 2011 1:49 pm

    “All students and faculty, no matter who they are, should be randomly tested.” AND
    “What is good for one individual is good for entire school community.”
    “they should make everybody drug test before each school year”

    Why are we proposing half measures here?

    If it’s a good thing, it is a good thing for everybody. Forget about random testing or once a year. All people in the United States of America should be tested daily for drugs or any other illegal activity with the testing and surveillance paid for by higher taxes or more borrowing from China. After all, it’s for our own good.

    Any who fail the test should be…..? Really, what could you do with them?

    You couldn’t even put them on trial since you violated their rights under the Bill of Rights to not incriminate themselves, but we can fix that by throwing out the Bill of Rights. It keeps getting in the way of what we want to do to each other, anyway.

    They can test me at any time because I accepted it as a condition of employment but we need to test EVERYBODY under the assumption they are guilty.

    David in a bunch of suspicious characters

  12. CreamPuff on January 20th, 2011 12:46 pm

    The reason they are not drug testing every student is because they force students
    to go to school and they would have a hard time therefore forcing also drug tests
    for them. On the other hand, they do not force you to do athletics or any other
    extra activities and so for those they CAN force them to do drug tests if they want
    to do the extra curricular activities. Then it becomes a CHOICE.
    I personally would like to see every single student in AMERICA be drug tested
    and get drugs out of our schools, out of our homes and
    neighborhoods, out of our children and OUT OF AMERICA.

  13. Michelle Dixon on January 20th, 2011 12:15 pm

    Deb, I have to agree with you! All students and faculty, no matter who they are, should be randomly tested. I understand the parental permission, but, why not incorporate it with the student handbook they give out at the beginning of each school year and have the parents sign a paper stating they recieved a copy and giving permission at that time for the drug testing to be done. I wish they did this country wide!

  14. Football Mom on January 20th, 2011 11:30 am

    Ok, I dont know how I feel about this situation but I do have one question if anyone cares to way in on it……..
    If the extra-curicular (sp?) gets caught positive, they dont do extra-curicluars (sp?).
    What is going to happen to the everyday student if they get caught positive? Seems very unreasonable to suspend them and drug courses will take away from learning (yes, some people are actually “helped” by smoking weed) .
    And NO I do not do drugs of any kind…….Just wondering??????

  15. Angi B. on January 20th, 2011 7:12 am

    I think it is about time that they brought this into our school systems, but I think they should bring it in all counties of schools and not just Escambia County; I also feel that all students should be tested, not just the athlete’s, members of groups or the ones who park their vehichles on school property. Do you think that these are the only ones that do or might try the drugs? If so, I feel that you’re sadly wrong! There are actually alot more that goes on in these school systems that really need to be changed and the ways of doing them.
    For instance, you don’t broadcast to the students “Oh our DTF (Drug Task Force) will be coming on this certain date”. That is like telling them “Ok, their coming tomorrow so leave your drugs at home but it’ll be alright for you to bring them back the following day. So that leaves me to say, “What’s The Use”?
    I also personally feel that they should send someone from the DTF to do the tests, due to there might be a little favortism of some students and the tests not be done or not done right. I also think that all staff members should also be randomly tested as well… I will gladly sign…

  16. Deb on January 20th, 2011 7:01 am

    My opinion is that ALL be radomly tested, not just extracurricular activities, thats foolish, should include all students and teachers. Why permission from parents?? (hmmm) Do we need to put this into a vote situation…just do it!!

  17. Been there on January 19th, 2011 9:28 pm

    Sorry for the typos in the last post.

    I’m still trying to understand why they think that the kids who are involved in sports and extracurricular activities are the ones on drugs. I’m pretty sure that if the truth were known, there would be a much higher percentage of the kids who are NOT involved in any of these things being on drugs than those who ARE. I don’t mean that the jocks are not doing drugs or that the “nerds” are, only that people of both groups are involved in drugs and it’s kind of naive to only test certain kids instead of all of them.

  18. Been there on January 19th, 2011 9:21 pm

    I don’t see how they can possibly implement this without doing random testing on the entire student body, not just those involved in sports and extracurricular activities. I really don’t think they should do it all.
    We don’t have enough money in the schools to give the kids the education they deserve. Now we’re going to take money out of the already stretched to the limits budget so that we can do something that is none of the school board’s business. Wow, that makes so much sense.
    We need to keep the money where it is and quit trying to take over the parents’ job! If there is suspicion of drug use, contact the parents and let them handle it. If you catch a kid with drugs at school, call the cops.
    The school’s job is to educate my child. It is NOT to parent them. That is MY job and I don’t appreciate anyone interfering in it. I do a damn good job with my kids. The school needsto let me do that without their inpout.

  19. missfreelove69 on January 19th, 2011 8:24 pm

    I trust my children. My parents trusted me. If my child chooses to smoke a little weed it won’t kill her! And if she got into dangerous drugs, trust me, as a parent you’d know.

    I’d rather she smoke weed than drink alcohol any day of the week! So the school board can take this plan and shove it. As a parent, if they call me and tell me my child has tested positive for Marijuana, I will make their lives a public misery. Bring it on, Bergosh! I can make you look very small and stupid.

  20. Just me on January 19th, 2011 6:32 pm

    (creampuff) not all parents are bad when I was this age. I agree they should have done this and I wouldn’t have done something but I had an adult live with us that was addicted and my dad payed for his rehab and everything eles for him and he taught me somethings that I know today like so as I say not as I do but while and the whole time he stayed here he told me all his stories about him and told me never do this and I had to do essays about drugs and that’s the first. Thing I ever thought of was Hume teaching me all of this and my parents tell me all these stories of wat they dis and how they look back and wish they didn’t but that’s not saying thatbtjere bad parents my parents all ways told me if I ever did anything like that or gotten really drunk and had to drive home they told me to call them and almost everyone in my family tell me that to I have an older brother that has had a DUI under age in alabama I was with him we went on a fishin trip and went to the store and was going home and that was my parents number 1 rule not to do and we went through crap with my family and freinds and with my dad showin us pics of people that have died from this or killed some one and that taught me a life lesson we were really luck for how we turned out and now I always look back at that and always are some peole offer us drugs or at someones house with them we just leave. But yes I do think they need these drug test it will give them life lessons like I have had so they don’t get bad and. GOD does everything for a reason and that s how I get my life lessons from gettin DUI but not hurtin anyone or ourselves and that’s what god does this stuff For so that we can relize what we have done Do As I Say Not As I Do one big life lesson

  21. northender43 on January 19th, 2011 5:40 pm

    JimD – “I do think it should go one step closer and the testing of teachers should also be random as well…to include the Superintendent and the school board.”
    – the bus drivers are randomly drug tested throughout the school year.

    Mr E – “The school officials aren’t parents.”
    – no they are the parents, but if parents would parent and not try to be friends with their children then the schools wouldn’t have to be.

    I think that this is a good idea. I do think that they need to randomly drug test ALL employees and students.

  22. Dixie Chick on January 19th, 2011 4:38 pm

    Do they think the kids that aren’t althetes or drive cars do drugs? Talk about sticking their head in the sand!! Also if you test teachers then board members and central office should too.

  23. flomaton man on January 19th, 2011 1:58 pm

    they should make everybody drug test before each school year at the parents expence.I would pay just to know my children are’nt around the crap.then the schools could do randoms through out the year.

  24. CreamPuff on January 19th, 2011 12:52 pm

    I can’t believe parents are fighting this. The only reason kids will have a problem
    with it is because they hear negative crap from their parents about they shouldn’t
    have to do this, or they are afraid they will be caught with drugs in their systems.
    Both of my girls said they wish this had been around a lot sooner and they bet
    they wouldn’t have had some things happen while they attended school that
    happened because of drugie kids. Kids around here are out of control but then
    so are too many of the parents. Bad adults with kids equals juvenile delinquents and worse in THEIR kids. Too many adults in escambia county mess
    up THEIR kids so bad that their kids end up dead or in jail or on drugs or gone one way or the other so the same parents end up raising their grandchildren and guess what they mess them up also.
    Time to get kids back under control for THEIR OWN SAKES AND OURS.

  25. concerned on January 19th, 2011 12:04 pm

    nobody should have the right to drug test students. they already dont want to stay in school anyways, now drug testing them? that should be left up to parents and/or probation officers for certain students.

  26. shae on January 19th, 2011 10:49 am

    I think it should be across the board. Don’t just single out those students who participate in extracurricular activities. Don’t think for one minute that a middle schooler wouldn’t understand, they are smarter than your giving them credit for. I know of a young man who was introduced to “huffing” in middle school, by his fellow students. His mother was very smart in getting him help while still in middle school. I’m all for what ever is going to keep our kids safe. Including patrol dogs. At least this would be a good reason to up a small percentage on my tax dollar that I could agree with.

  27. T on January 19th, 2011 8:08 am

    Another example of the goverment stepping all over our right to privacy. Name any other reason other than an illness where it would be acceptable for someone to tell your kid to urinate in a cup. This is taking things way to far. If a kid is caught in school dealing or in possesion of drugs prosecute them. Run drug dogs through the parking lot. Surely there are less invasive ways of dealing with this.

  28. Mr E on January 19th, 2011 7:54 am

    This will never work.Too much money and trouble to go through.The school officials aren’t parents.Maybe they should go drug test the parents before the kids.

  29. observer on January 19th, 2011 7:41 am

    How is this going to be paid for? They already say they dont have any money to give their ESPs a decent raise. AND just how random will this be…bet the ones who really need the test will never be made to take it. Just another way for principals to get rid of students they dont want in their schools.

  30. JimD on January 19th, 2011 6:49 am

    Finally, a school district that is doing something positive and in the right direction to help reduce the drugs on school campus. I like the idea of a year to year contract that will not allow students to participate in any extracurricular activities or park on a school campus. I do think it should go one step closer and the testing of teachers should also be random as well…to include the Superintendent and the school board. What is good for one individual is good for entire school community.

    If the results on adults are positive, the results should be filled in their employment record and forwarded to all and any future employer’s as a result of their actions.

  31. just sayin on January 19th, 2011 5:43 am

    I think the parents should have a say in whether or not their child is drug tested and if they choose not to have their child subjected to this it should not keep the child from participating in extracurricular activities.