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Wood County Schools institutes drug testing

Williamstown High School will include grades 7-12

PARKERSBURG — As Wood County Schools welcomes students today for the 2019-20 school year, officials are reminding parents of the district’s new high school drug testing policy.

Superintendent Will Hosaflook said Policy 1545.2: Student Drug Testing applies to all high school students participating in sports, extracurricular activities and those that drive to school or park on school property. Each school will hold student orientation programs on the new policy.

“No student shall be allowed to practice or participate in any extracurricular activities involving interscholastic competition or drive to school unless the student has returned the properly signed ‘Student Drug Testing Consent Form,'” according to the policy.

Hosaflook said the schools are allowed to require drug testing for school-sanctioned activities that are outside of the regular school day.

“We’re not talking about their right to an education, we’re talking about the privilege of participating in other activities,” he said. “If they want the privilege, they are accepting the testing.”

Students already have the opportunity to participate in opt-in drug testing programs, and some curriculums, such as the Career Technical Education simulated workplace, already require students to agree to random drug testing.

Though the new policy applies to high schools grades 9-12, the Wood County Board of Education Tuesday approved a waiver for Williamstown High School to include grades 7-8 in the testing. Williamstown High serves grades 7-12 and next year will add sixth-graders as it becomes Williamstown High/Middle School.

Hosaflook said WHS already participates in the Drug Free Jackets program, which is a voluntary drug testing program. The additional grades added through the waiver will be paid for with community funds, rather than by the school system, board members said Tuesday.

Officials from the Drug Free Jackets and Drug Free Clubs of America have publicly expressed support for the new high school drug testing policy. Hosaflook said he believes those opt-in programs will supplement the district’s testing program.

Hosaflook said the idea is not to punish students, but rather to act as an early intervention, identifying a problem and getting the student help before it gets worse. If a student fails a random drug test, parents or guardians are contacted, students attend counseling, and a second drug test is conducted on the sample to eliminate false positives from prescribed medications or certain kinds of foods.

Repeated failures of the tests will lead to suspension from activities and increased interventions, he said.

“We do have an opioid epidemic,” Hosaflook said. “This was one time when we thought we could help.”

The full policy along with student forms can be found on the district’s web site at www.woodcountyschoolswv.com.

Michael Erb can be reached at merb@newsandsentinel.com.

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