Starting in August, Midway High School students who park on campus will be subject to random drug testing, after a decision this week by Midway Independent School District trustees.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to widen the scope of its drug testing policy, which already applies to students grades seventh through 12th who are involved in extracurricular activities.
“Our entire goal I think was to cast a wider net ... to catch more students into a restorative way when they do get involved in drugs,” Assistant Superintendent Jeanie Johnson told the board Tuesday. She said the proposal was the result of “a lot of time and effort and thoughtful consideration from several groups.”
The district’s School Health Advisory Council, comprised of parents and staff, recommended the expanded drug testing policy to the board in May. The school already has a program to randomly test middle school and high school students in extracurricular activities, from the football team to the Spanish Club.
The school district holds random drug testing 10 times per year and can test up to 30 percent of the student population at any session.
Those tested are randomly selected by district’s contracted the drug testing company Southwest Consortium.
During the 2017-18 school year, Midway ISD paid Southwest Consortium $14,000 for drug testing services, Johnson said. The tests cost $12.50 each and screen for a variety of drugs, including amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, PCP, marijuana, Ecstasy and steroids. Now that the measure has passed, the board will allocate another $5,600 to cover the cost of testing more students.
When student tests turn up positive, the students will be required to take a drug education course and submit to testing again. Johnson said the process will be focused on helping students rather than “discipline or consequence.”
“Instead of pushing them away we want to bring them in closer, we want to be sure that they have all the information that they can get from us to bring them back into restoration so that they can participate again void of those type of behaviors in the future,” she said.
Two board members commented following Johnson’s presentation. Board member Susan Vick agreed with the new policy, saying it would help Midway school officials to respond better to students’ mental and emotional needs and discover why they are turning to drugs.
Board trustee Pam Watts said she thought the policy would help students “connect into the resources that will identify the root cause of what the drug issues are – are they self-medicating because of undiagnosed problems like anxiety and depression? It’s not just the consequence of using the drugs. It’s to find out how we can help them get off them and get the resources and help they need.”
The policy will take effect this fall for all students with parking passes and those involved in extracurricular activities.