Edmond Public Schools Random Drug Tests

Edmond Public Schools renewed their annual contracts this month, which included their contract to increase random drug testing among students in the upcoming academic year.

The increase in random drug testing is unrelated with SQ788 approval, but rather their ability to go back to their original drug testing contract instated six years ago, according to Susan Parks-Schlepp, director of Community Relations.

“What we want to make sure that people understand is that the newspaper article that came out in the Oklahoman, lead some people to believe that because of the passage of medical marijuana, the district suddenly began to do random drug testing with students” Parks-Schlepp said. “And that is not at all the case; it has been in place for six years [and] was simply a coincidence.”

The original drug test that was put into place six years ago required that 75 students would be subjected to the random drug tests every month.

“These tests are not meant to be punitive in nature,” Parks-Schlepp said. “We are always concerned about any drugs that adversely effect our student’s health and welfare.”

However, Parks-Schlepp said that all districts will have to decide about how to follow the law versus following policy.

Each test will cost $32, with the district usually spending $20,000 a year for the program. About 600-700 students are randomly drug tested per year.

Parks-Schlepp said that students who need a drug for medical reasons will have provide a medical note from their doctors. She said the primary focus is to protect students and offer counseling.

Students who are in competitive extracurricular activities will be subjected to these tests. These extracurricular activities include athletics, orchestra, band and debate.

“With sports and activities, we should be most concerned about the safety of the student in conjunction with the effects of prescription marijuana,“ said Bret Towne, superintendent of Edmond Public Schools.

The first positive test will not cause an automatic removal, but students will be provided a form of treatment or counseling, according to Parks-Schlepp. A second positive test will result in a temporary suspension from teams or activities.

Currently, there are many unknowns about the form of medical marijuana and the possible effects on students while at school, according to Towne.

“I think most school districts will begin to work with their attorneys and professional organizations to work through the myriad of issues,” Towne said.

The random drug tests will be conducted by using a cheek saw and are all kept confidential and reviewed by certified medical professionals before the school is contacted, according to the press release. If the student is tested positive and have no medical prescription, the school will be notified and a conference with the student will be set to help the student receive appropriate counseling or treatment, as well as a follow-up drug test.

“Students have said that they are thankful for these random drug tests because it gives them a way to say no to their peers,” Parks-Schlepp said.

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