EDMOND — Edmond public high schools completed their first month of student drug testing on Jan. 30 with all results coming back negative.
“We are extremely satisfied with how the first month went. We hope that we'll see continual success each month,” said Jason Brown, district executive director of secondary education.
School board members and school administrators had been working on the policy for three years. It was finalized in the fall, and testing began Jan. 7.
Testing is confined to high school students who participate in extracurricular activities as defined by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. Activities include music, sports and the Academic Bowl.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that schools can drug-test students who participate in extracurricular activities, and school administrators think those students should be held to a higher standard.
“It's a privilege, but with that privilege comes a heightened responsibility. Obviously, they're going to be looked at as role models and school leaders, and so with that heightened responsibility, we feel they have that responsibility to remain drug- and alcohol-free,” Brown said.
Brown said there are about 2,000 students at each high school, and 35 to 50 percent participate in some sort of extracurricular activity.
The district chose saliva drug testing administered by a third-party company. Administrators use student ID numbers to randomly select 25 students from each high school to test each month. Students are not notified until the day of testing.
Testing takes no more than a few minutes, Brown said.
“Our goal is to deter students from using drugs. We hope kids will choose their activities — their band or their sport — over drugs. We want to serve as a deterrent with the least amount of school interruption possible,” Brown said.
Kevin Hill, parent of a Memorial High School senior baseball player, said given the small number of students who are tested, he was not surprised by the success of January's tests.
“We're not even touching the surface of the problem,” Hill said. “Drugs are on the rampage here in Edmond, and it's nothing new.”
Hill coaches his son's baseball team during off seasons, and he has two younger children who will attend Memorial High School.
“This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I love kids, and I cringe when one gets arrested for using drugs.”
Hill has expressed his support for student drug testing during several school board meetings. He supports the new policy but thinks it should be expanded to include the testing of all high school students.
Shelly Utsch, whose daughter is a sophomore at Memorial High School, agrees with Hill.
“I don't think it should be confined to one group of students. They all go to school, they're all exposed, why not just test the whole school?”
Students have mixed opinions about the new policy.
“I've heard a lot of talk from people who are against it. It seems a little violating,” Edmond North High School senior Summer Foores said. “But I think unless you are using drugs you have nothing to worry about.”
Memorial High School junior Kaila Gier, who is in the marching band and on the volleyball and track teams, said she supports testing students involved in extracurricular activities.
“I understand that those students are held to a higher standard. I would like if the whole school was tested but since those students are seen as leaders, I think why not start with them,” Gier said.
Brown said the district budgeted $35,000 out of the general fund to spend on the testing.
Contributing: Staff Writers Jaclyn Cosgrove and Carrie Coppernoll