Rock Hill High School students and parents asked to weigh in on random drug testing

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - The Rock Hill Board of Education is looking for feedback from high school students and their parents about a proposal to randomly drug test teens next school year.

A group of athletic directors in Rock Hill proposed the idea to the board in Jan. 2017. Now, parents and students at South Pointe High School, Rock Hill High School and Northwestern High School are asked to weigh in via an online survey.

Right now, school officials have the authority to issue a drug test to a student if they suspect the student is under the influence. Under the proposal, the policy would allow for random drug testing of any student-athlete or student driver.

"The testing would all be done through an outside third-party company so that it would remove any bias or speculation that a student or certain group of students were picked over another," Director of Communications for Rock Hill City Schools Mychal Frost said.

Frost says the goal is to not punish students for abusing, but to deter them from using drugs or get them help if they are using.

"Hopefully the thought of a random test is a deterrent in of itself, but also, they should know that we want to help you," Frost said.

The Clover School district has had a random drug testing policy in place since 2010. According to Athletic Director Bailey Jackson, the program has been successful in his year-and-a-half with the school district.

Clover's policy includes a planned drug test for all student-athletes at the beginning of their season. Then, sometime throughout the season, about 40 students are selected at random to be tested.

Jackson says the first time a student tests positive the superintendent and parents are notified. The second time a student tests positive the athletic director is also notified, and the student-athlete is automatically ineligible for five days. To regain eligibility the student must go through counseling and random testing.

Jackson says in his time with the school district, no student has ever tested positive twice.

Clover Schools contract with Keystone Substance Abuse Services to administer the random drug tests. According to Keystone's recent survey of 11th graders from all four York County School Districts, 20 percent admitted to using e-cigarettes, 15 percent admitted to smoking marijuana and 15 percent admitted to drinking alcohol.

"Our survey results are self-reported and a lot of times they think that the school district is going to read it, so they will under report," Prevention Director Danielle Center said. "The fact that 20 percent or 15 percent of kids are already saying they're using, means that the number is actually higher."

Rock Hill parents and high school students can submit their feedback on the proposal now. At January's Board of Education meeting the results will be presented. Frost says the policy could be approved as early as spring of 2018 and go into effect in fall of 2018.

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