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SCHOOL PATROL

Hamilton Co. BOE considering random drug tests for students in extracurricular activities

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

Hamilton County school board members are considering random drug tests for students who are part of extra curricular activities including sports teams. The idea is still in its early stages, but parents are already speaking up.

School board member Dr. Greg Martin believes there's a drug problem in Hamilton County Schools. He brought up the random drug testing idea at Thursday's school board meeting and said it could help if it becomes policy.

Channel 3 spoke with parents and they say they aren't opposed to drug testing, but think it should be expanded to all students.

"To single out just a few athletes or a few participants in extra curricular activities, that's a little bit of a problem. That has a little bit of a sting to it," Kevin Wright, a parent.

Wright has two high school students and a middle school student who play sports like football, wrestling, and soccer. Some of Wright's questions include who's going to pay for the random drug tests and what happens if a student tests positive.

"What are they going to do with the information? if we've got specific guidelines and what's going to happen? are they going to be kicked off the team, not be able to participate? what's the time period?," Wright said.

Those questions along with whether the proposed policy will affect high school students, middle school students, or both are still being considered by board members. 

"My intent and my heart is not to be punitive, but to be helpful and restorative," Dr. Greg Martin, District 3 school board member said.

Dr. Martin said the idea came up after speaking with coaches.

"If young people are given a choice between being involved in illegal substance abuse and if they have a problem with that, maybe they'll be forced to make that decision and choose to go a better a path," Dr. Martin said.

There isn't a timetable for when the proposal could be up for a vote. Dr. Martin said it'll be up to the new board chairman to determine when board members will talk more about the idea.

School officials for Polk and Whitfield County schools have a random drug testing policy for students involved in extracurricular activities. A spokeswoman for Catoosa County's policy is only for high school athletes and band members.

Some of the punishments include immediate suspensions with a hearing.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

School Patrol

David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools across the Tennessee Valley.

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