In addition to the twice-yearly urine drug testing from previous years,10-20 students at a time will be randomly chosen for about two hair follicle tests this year. The hair follicle test will test for drugs that stay in the system for 90 days.
“We aren’t trying to catch kids,” athletic director Jim Bob Puckett said. “I want everyone to understand that this is not trying to catch you, but we are trying to give them an out.”
If a test comes up positive, the athletic board has readjusted students’ punishment phases to support each student. These phases include meeting with counselors and parents to help students recognize their mistake, and athletes will miss 10 percent of their season.
“We’re trying to get kids [who have tested positive] counseling to help them,” assistant athletic director Kyle Herrema said.
There are two scheduled urine tests which every fine arts student and athlete will participate in during the school year, but students will be chosen at random for the hair follicle tests. Between 10-20 people will be selected from the fine arts and athletics departments for each screening.
“I know [the athletic directors are] doing it randomly which I think is good,” senior Carson Collins said. “I think it will kind of prevent people from doing things that they probably shouldn’t do.”
The hair has to be an inch and a half long to be eligible for the follicle test. If a student doesn’t have enough hair on their scalp, they must use a section of body hair. If taken from the scalp, the testing administrators will take it from multiple spots.
“[The testing administrators] take it from various spots so that it’s invisible to the naked eye,” Puckett said. “Nobody would notice that a person got their hair cut.”
The athletic directors said they understand that drug use is prevalent at all schools, but hope that few tests come back positive. Administration stressed that the purpose of the drug testing policy is to help students and parents feel safe in high school.
“We know that we would be naive to think that nobody has done drugs,” Herrema said. “We’re hoping that as few people have a positive test as possible.”
The drug tests will cost the district between $10,000 and $15,000 a year. If parents want to have their child tested, they can pay $17 for the urine test and $70-$75 for a hair follicle test. Parents can email Herrema at [email protected]
“We are invested in our kids,” Puckett said. “We are going to do everything we can to keep them safe and out of harm’s way and this is just one of those opportunities that we have as a school district.”