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Clinton Schools Move to Random Drug Testing for Some Activities

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 06 May 2013 09:14am | comments
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The Clinton Public School District could soon join a growing number of schools across the state that randomly test middle and high school students participating in sports, performing arts and other extracurricular  activities.

 It could soon take more than talent and intelligence for Clinton students to  make the girls basketball team, sing in the choir or become a member of the honor society. Before joining any extracurricular activity students may soon have to agree to mandatory random drug test. Just outside of the Eastside Elementary Gymnasium Clinton Superintendent, Phil Burchfield says its the districts way of being proactive to a changing environment.

"We feel like if we caught some of this before they actually were suspended or expelled, it would be in the best interest of the district as well as our community," explains Burchfield.

Burchfield says the goal is to give students more incentive not to use illegal drugs anywhere, even on weekends.Those who test positive for drug use will have to sit out 25 percent of the season for the first offense, 50 percent for the second and a full year for the third. After a students fourth offense Burchfield says they will be banned permanently.  

"It gives them a reason to say, 'I can't risk a drug use and then them telling me I can't compete athletically on the court or on the field, especially if it involves me getting a scholarship later on down the line,'" he continues.

While Burchfield believes the proposal has the support of the community Bear Atwood, Legal Director for the ACLU of Mississippi sees things differently. Her organization believes even though the U.S. Constitution upholds such policies they have little if any positive impact.

"It's about creating a school atmosphere where kids get the mental health assistance they need so they're not self medicating," says Atwood.  "So scaring kids doesn't work, random drug testing doesn't work, things that build children's self esteem and great programs, that works."

The Clinton School Board reviewed a draft of the policy at its April Meeting and will review it again this month.  




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