A Texas school district will randomly drug test students who participate in extracurricular activities or request a permit to park a vehicle on school property, according to a letter to parents posted on the school’s website.
Students in grades 7-12 at Bushland Independent School District will be tested at the beginning of the school year for “alcohol and numerous illegal drugs,” said the letter from Superintendent Chris Wigington. After that, random testing will occur as many as 10 times during the school year.
“The Bushland ISD Board of Trustees believe that maintaining an environment that is safe, free from illegal substance abuse, and conducive to learning is an important goal for the district and community,” Wigington said in the letter. “This policy and the program that it supports are designed not for punitive measures, but to eliminate the potential threat to the student’s health and safety that can occur if students are using or under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.”
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Wigington said testing of saliva or urine samples will take place in a confidential location at the school and results will only be disclosed to the student, their parents and designated district officials. If a student refuses testing, he or she will be considered to have a positive result.
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Wigington told KVII that there is not a drug problem within the district, but the proactive move has been discussed for about a year.
When asked if the positive testing could result in suspension or expulsion, Wigington told the station: “These are extracurricular activities, they’re privileges not rights. We don’t want to hurt a student academically, we don’t want to suspend them from school for testing positive for a drug.”
Several districts in Texas have drug testing in place. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 broadened the authority of public schools to test children for illegal drugs by allowing for the inclusion of middle and high school students participating in extracurricular programs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Testing had previously been allowed only for student athletes.