The Rock Hill school district is seeking more feedback on random drug testing for student-athletes and student drivers.
The school district is considering a policy that would call for random drug testing among student-athletes, starting with fall sports in 2018.
Luanne Kokolis, associate superintendent, said the district plans to survey students and parents at Rock Hill, South Pointe and Northwestern high schools to get their thoughts.
Kokolis said the survey will also gather input on random drug testing for student drivers.
Student drivers would be subject to random drug testing as a condition of their driving and parking privileges on campus, said Mychal Frost, spokesperson for the district. The process would be similar to that for student-athletes.
Kokolis said district administration will bring the feedback results to the school board at its January work session before drafting a policy.
In January 2017, Bill Warren, athletic director at Rock Hill High School, proposed a pilot drug testing program to the Rock Hill school board.
Warren said the two most commonly used drugs are marijuana and alcohol, closely followed by pills found in the home.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal to test students participating in competitive extracurricular activities, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Testing all students is not legal.
School districts are also allowed to test student drivers because driving on the school campus is a privilege, said Ryan Brown, spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Education.
Lexington County School District One randomly drug tests student athletes and student drivers. Students must consent to the program and agree to the rules and procedures before participating in athletics or being allowed to drive and park on campus.
The Beaufort County School District states in its drug testing policy that students can be tested if they choose to participate in voluntary school activities, such as parking on campus.
The Clover school district introduced a drug testing policy seven years ago that tests student-athletes for the illegal use of drugs and performance-enhancing substances. The policy allows for random tests throughout the school year for evidence of alcohol, marijuana, opiates, cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP, Ecstasy, oxycodone, steroids and hydrocodone.
Mark Hopkins, executive director of secondary education and administrative services for the Clover school district, said he believes the program is working to deter use.
“We were able to communicate that our purpose was to help students who may need it, and open conversations if ones needed to be open,” Hopkins said.
Testing programs are typically used as a deterrent from drug use, according to Keystone Substance Abuse Services.
Keystone officials shared with the Rock Hill school board in March information on middle and high school student drug and alcohol use.
In 2015, Keystone conducted a survey of 6,000 students throughout York County to learn what drugs they may be using and to determine their perception of drugs and alcohol, Center said. Three percent of seventh-grade students said they used alcohol in the past 30 days, at the time of the survey. That number climbed to 13 percent for freshmen and 22 percent for juniors, the survey found.
Under the Rock Hill proposal, students who test positive for drug use would be suspended from sports temporarily, but also provided counseling, Warren said.
“We don’t want to just kick the student out of athletics; we want to help the student,” he said in January.
Rock Hill school board member Windy Cole said athletic coaches also need to play a part in prevention.
“I would hope that each coach, as season is beginning, spends time talking to their students and letting them know ... that we have a no substance abuse policy in our schools and on our teams,” she said.
“I would like the coaches to step up and talk with these students, and make it very clear that reporting someone who is doing drugs is protecting their life, and could be yours,” Cole said.
Keystone is also teaching an early prevention course to all sixth-grade students, Rock Hill Superintendent Kelly Pew said.
“We hope that will be a way of prevention before they ever get to high school,” Pew said.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082