JCPS conducting internal review of strict drug-testing policy

All high school students in activities are tested

JCPS Drug Testing Policy

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Board of Education for Jefferson City Public Schools is looking for ways to improve and possibly cheapen the district's drug testing policy for students.

The district requires all high school students participating in Missouri State High School Activities Association-sanctioned activities to enter the Student Drug Testing Program. Students in the program are required to complete a test before the start of the season for any activity and then are entered into a random pool for possible additional tests.

The 2009 policy, which was revised in 2016, applies to all JCPS students participating in "football, softball, golf, volleyball, cross country, soccer, tennis, basketball, wrestling, track, baseball, cheerleading, dance, scholars bowl, band, choir, orchestra, speech, debate and any other MSHSAA-sanctioned activity."

The policy includes procedures for failing tests and avenues for students to complete additional tests or counseling to avoid suspension or other penalties.

Brian Shindorf, the chief of learning at JCPS, said the district plans to look into the program's effectiveness, alternative testing methods and possible changes over the course of the 2018-2019 school year.

The annual cost for the district's drug testing program is about $22,000. 

JCPS spokeswoman Ryan Burns said the automatic testing for every student involved in an activity will be examined. "Whether the bulk testing is, in fact, necessary and serving the district well is certainly a part of the ongoing policy review," Burns said.

MSHSAA does not have a statewide requirement for drug testing and instead allows each district to construct its own set of rules, MSHSAA spokesman Jason West said.

West said most school districts have a policy that would require testing a student if certain conditions have been met or require participating in a random pool for testing. It is less common for school district to require each participant to undergo a test, West said.

Kelli Hopkins, an associate executive director of board services at the Missouri School Board Association, said it is "very rare" for a district to require all activity participants to compete a drug test.

In 2013, 98 of the 220 school districts in Missouri had a random drug testing policy in place, Hopkins said. She said the drug testing policy at JCPS is the first she has heard of in the state that requires all participants to be tested.

The bulk, or preseason, testing for students has already been completed for this school year, so any changes are likely to be made before the start of the 2019-2020 school year, Shindorf said, which is also when Capitol City High School is expected to open.

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