Eagle County school considers drug testing

Matt Terrell
Eagle County correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL ” A random drug testing policy is being developed at Battle Mountain High School to bring down substance-abuse problems being reported at the school.

The policy is still a work in progress. The main idea though is that students involved in extra-curricular activities like sports would be subject to drug testing. With about 75 percent of the students Battle Mountain involved in extra curricular activities, a drug-testing policy would effect a lot of students.

The details, though, haven’t been decided, and the details are pretty important to doing the testing right, Principal Brian Hester said.

For instance, how many students should be tested? How often should they be tested? What do you test for? It will be important to find a reliable, certified place to do the tests, Hester said, and of course, cost will be a factor, as well.

And while the law allows mandatory testing only for students in extra-curricular activities, parents could be allowed to sign up their children for the testing pool.

The school is also trying to figure out what will happen if a student tests positive for drugs. The school wants to have some sort of intervention and help program available instead of simply punishing the student and pulling them off the team.

However, finding the right kind of family counseling and help programs in the valley has been difficult, said Jeanne Hennessy, guidance a counselor at the school.

Giving kids an ‘excuse’

The goal, along with finding and helping students who are using drugs, is to deter drug use all together, according to school officials.

While some students may not be daunted by the idea of being kicked off a sports team, many students realize they’d be letting their teammates down if they were caught with drugs and forced to sit out games, said Rich Houghton, athletic director.

Having the policy gives kids an “excuse” to say no, said Margaret Olle, a parent of two students at Battle Mountain. Many times, students are expected to go to parties because everyone else is, but they don’t really want to be in a drug-filled environment.

“Kids can say, ‘I can’t go out drinking and smoking with you, I might be drug tested this week,'” Olle said.

Parents say there’s a large rift between students who drink and use drugs and students who don’t. Kids who want to abstain often have a hard time speaking up. A drug-testing policy gives support to kids who want to stay clean, Hester said.

“We want to give power back to students who aren’t using,” he said.

Houghton said he’s like to see some sort of reward system for students who stay clean.

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