Council: Mandatory drug testing unneeded
School board members will hear tonight, Thursday, Nov. 11, recommendations from the school district’s school health advisory council that the district not institute mandatory drug testing for students.
Dr. Jennifer Kidd, chairman of the council, said the recommendation came after research and discussion with local physicians, substance abuse agencies and law enforcement agencies.
The council had been asked in September by board members to come up with a recommendation on drug testing and present it before Christmas. The request was made after trustees brought up the subject of drug testing and because the council’s mission is to promote healthy and safe behaviors through education, campus-wide activities and parental involvement.
In its recommendations, the council said it supports evidence-based tobacco, alcohol and drug prevention education in grades K-12, as well as other programs required by the state.
The council asked for prompt referral of any cases of at-risk or drug using students to counseling and/or social service agencies.
Kidd said the council believes reducing drug and alcohol use can be achieved through community efforts, parental involvement and education.
“Evidence-based prevention education programs teach goal setting, leadership and decision making skills, as well as providing accurate information about substances of abuse,” she said in an e-mail response to a question.
She said intervention programs “are associated with drug-free behaviors in the future,” while drug testing programs are not.
“Given our small community and student population, those students abusing alcohol or drugs are more easily identifi- able, and therefore intervention and discipline can be targeted where appropriate,” Kidd said.
Besides Kidd, council members include Dr. Lori Anderson, a pediatrician and parent; Karen Jones and Jay Kenigsberg, both parents of Port Aransas students; Christine Kreutziger, a Port Aransas teacher and coach; Gary Mysorski, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Port Aransas; Debra Richardson, long-time nutritionist with the school district; Nancy Vaughn, a certified professional counselor who works with Port Aransas students; and co-chair Melissa Ramsden, the Port Aransas ISD nurse.
School board president Chuck Borders said Monday that while the board hadn’t yet seen the council’s recommendations and wouldn’t officially see them until today, he believes the board will decide what, if anything, to do after discussing the report.
“We asked for (the council’s) recommendations,” he said. “Now it’s up to the board to decide what to do about them.”
Kidd pointed out that the School Health Advisory Council will sponsor alcohol and tobacco avoidance presentations in schools on Friday, Nov. 12, and Friday, Nov. 19. Middle and high school students will have small-group discussions with representatives from a grant-funded organization called Project Turnaround. Elementary students will see a puppet show about tobacco prevention, she said.
Kidd said the presentations should be “an effective follow-up” from the tobacco and drug awareness messages presented during Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 25-29.