Dalton Public Schools is exploring the idea of allowing random drug tests next year for high school students who participate in extracurricular activities.
School officials say they're considering a 3 phase approach to combat student drug use next year. Principal, Steve Bartoo explains the challenges he's facing.
"We have students that use drugs and abuse drugs absolutely we do and for me as a principal of this school, anything we can do to assist or to help them make healthier choices in what they're doing will be beneficial," said Principal Bartoo.
The push to do random drug testing on any student who's participating in extracurricular activities next year comes after a high profile case involving two football players who were cited for having a small amount of marijuana. Other students have been in trouble for prescription drug use in the past. Principal Bartoo believes it's time to talk about a solution.
"It reignites these conversations again and reignites these conversations in our community and with our parents as well," said Principal Bartoo.
If approved, the first phase creates a community partnership to address drug abuse overall in the community.
"Sometimes parents might want to be involved but they don't know how or don't know what to do," said Greg Dent, Executive Director of Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership. " In some cases they feel trapped and so we're hoping,through a particular program we might design, to give them a way to respond in their children's lives."
The second phase involves random drug testing, while the final phase creates an assistance program to provide therapeutic resources to any student in need.
"I wouldn't label that Dalton High School has a drug problem because I don't think that but if we can help one kid, just one kid make a better choice or make a healthier choice, that carries through the rest of their life....then we will have done a good job in helping out," said Principal Bartoo
Students and teachers who do not participate in extra curricular activities would be exempt and the school board would determine which activities qualify. As for the cost, Principal Bartoo says that would be covered by the school system at first. He says policies could then be added to address any further needs.