Henry County school board to consider random drug-testing students

By: Ryan Rodig Email
By: Ryan Rodig Email

The idea has been discussed for years.

Now, Thursday the Henry County Board of Education will consider random drug testing of students involved in extra-curricular activities.

"We wanted something in place that could be used as a positive benefit for our students, and not put anything in place that would be punitive in nature," Henry Co. Superintendent Dennis Coe said Tuesday.

That means students would face suspensions and be encouraged to seek counseling for failing a drug test. They would not face further punishment after that, unless they fail once again.

If approved, the testing will be paid for completely by grant money. According to Coe, Henry County Schools would continue the program until there is no longer grant money to put into the budget.

Wiley Smith is the current principal of Headland High School. He has been with Henry County Schools for 19 years, and thinks such a program would benefit students.

"It gives them an out now," say Principal Smith. "By saying no, my number might be pulled, or my name pulled it gives them some legitimacy in their standing up and doing the right thing."

Random drug testing would effect students in grades 7-12. Coe says students in extra-curriculars have been selected because court rulings have favored random drug testing of athletes, cheerleader, band members, and other groups. That is not the case thus far for entire school populations.

"We are just simply trying to help and trying to give the students an extra way to reach out, and an extra excuse not to do drugs, Coe added."

Headland High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Donnie Smith is on board with the drug testing proposal. He says protecting the students is more important than possibly losing them for a game or two.

"If you can catch a problem early I believe you save, you have the opportunity to save a young person," Coach Smith said. "That is how we look at it here in Henry County. It gives us a chance to help a young person where in most cases they might not have that opportunity."

Superintendent Coe says he has consulted with Henry County School's At-Risk Coordinator and other school systems that have implemented random drug testing.

He says at this time Henry County Schools will not include parents' requests to have their child included in the random testing pool, unlike many systems.

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