School board members discussed updating the drug testing policy at McAlester Public Schools.
MPS Superintendent Robert Steeber presented board members with a draft of a new drug policy based on previous discussions and suggestions to include students who participate in any extra-curricular activity in the pool for randomly-selected drug tests.
“Any student that chooses to participate and accept the privilege of being in an extra-curricular activity, that they are also in that pool for potentially being selected for a random drug test,” Steeber said of the draft policy.
Board members did not take action — but reiterated a desire to update the district’s drug testing policy.
MPS adopted its drug policy June 10, 2013 and made its last revision June 13, 2015.
Board President Joy Tribbey said she wanted to look into the policy because it hadn’t changed in nearly a decade, other similar-sized schools were addressing drug policies, and to be fair.
“Some of our fine arts, they require physicals and they’re under the same rules as the athletes are,” Tribbey said during the meeting. “I really feel like it needs to be fair all the way across for anybody that is representing the district.
“If they’re traveling with our district it’s a risk if we’re not doing it and it holds them accountable,” she addd. “I just think it’s imperative that we’re doing it. I think we all need to look this over and give Dr. Steeber any recommendations.”
Board member Greg Rock said during the meeting he thought accountability was a crucial element for expanding the policy to include all extra-curricular activities. Most board members voiced agreement.
Athletic Director James Singleton told board members the district does eight drug tests each year with 20 students randomly selected to test and previous offenders tested each time.
Students participating in athletics already tested under the previous policy.
The new draft policy states students will be randomly selected for drug testing if they participate in “any competition or performance that is done outside of the school day that represents McAlester Public School District.”
Steeber said the policy will have to go under further legal review before it becomes official but he believes it accomplishes something the board wanted to do.
He said some district leaders suggested putting the policy in effect after the end of the academic year to avoid a shift in the middle.
“We want to make it fair for them when we start and that way they have an opportunity to communicate it to their stakeholders, to their students about the policy change,” Steeber said.
Board members said they wanted to see policy options from other similar-sized districts and more before making a decision.
Officials said those options will be presented at a later board meeting.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org