Parents, community may weigh in on drug testing
Should the Port Aransas Independent School District start a random drug-testing program for students?
That question will be on the agenda when the PAISD Board of Trustees meets at 6 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 17, at the district's administration building on Station Street.
The public will have an opportunity to express opinions and ask questions regarding the issue.
Rick Adams, president of the board of trustees, said he doesn't expect a vote today. No specific date has been set for a vote.
Superintendent Billy Wiggins has said he expects to present trustees with information on legalities surrounding drug testing. He said he also will talk to trustees about what he has learned from school districts that have enacted drug testing programs.
Adams said he is hoping trustees today will reach a consensus on whether to ask Wiggins to draft a policy and program for a later board vote.
Trustees could end up asking Wiggins to put together a proposed program that would include both drug testing and drug education. Or trustees could ask the superintendent to produce a program that doesn't include drug testing but concentrates instead on educating students against taking drugs.
"I would like to at least get a consensus from the board on whether to table it again and let it go for the time being, or let it go forward," Adams said. "I don't want it to linger."
Trustees in November discussed the possibility of establishing a drugtesting program but said they wanted more information before deciding whether to establish a program.
A drug-testing program would affect only students who are involved in extra-curricular activities and those who drive on campus because they are the only students who can be legally tested, Wiggins said. That has to do with the fact that driving on campus and taking part in extracurricular activities such as athletics and band competitions are privileges, not rights, he said.
A drug-testing program would focus on Port Aransas High School, rather than the other two campuses in PAISD, at least at first, Wiggins said.
PAHS Principal Travis Longanecker has said he will support whatever the community desires, but he stated that he opposes the idea of drug testing at PAHS for various reasons. He said he doesn't believe testing will significantly affect usage of alcohol and illegal drugs among students.
Steve Reaves, athletic director at PAISD, has said he supports drug testing. He said a good program will deter drug use.
If PAISD establishes a program, it would be to detect various illegal drugs such as marijuana. But such a program would not be related to a steroid testing that the state is planning for schools all over Texas.
Signed into law in June last year, Senate Bill 8 mandates that the University Interscholastic League conduct random steroid testing of high school athletes in grades 9 to 12 at about 30 percent of UIL member high schools.
The tests are supposed to sample "a statistically significant number of students," according to a UIL news release.
The UIL has said the testing will take place this spring, but Port Aransas school officials have no way of knowing whether the testing will take place here. According to UIL procedure, schools won't get more than two days' notice before the testing actually is done.