Wednesday, July 28, 2004

School may test athletes for drug use

Walton-Verona set to vote

By Karen Gutierrez
Enquirer staff writer

WALTON - Student athletes in the Walton-Verona school system may be taking drug tests beginning this fall.

The school board is considering a new policy that would require all students to be tested when their sport begins, followed by random tests during the season. The program would put the district among a handful of others in Northern Kentucky, including Erlanger-Elsmere, Campbell County and Dayton, that test athletes.

"I'm totally for it," said basketball and volleyball player Megan Huellemeier, a senior at Walton-Verona High School. "People look up to student athletes as role models. If we can cut (drugs) out there, it will at least kind of control it."

The Walton-Verona district has 508 students in 7-12th grade, 287 of whom play sports.

Since last spring, high school officials have been meeting with teachers, parents and students to get their input on drug testing.

The catalyst was a survey given to students every two years. Over time, it has shown that the perception of drug use among students is higher than the reality, Principal Mark Krummen said. Some students might be tempted to try drugs based on those perceptions, he said. The threat of drug tests will give them a tool for resisting peer pressure.

District officials cautioned that the policy is preliminary. The school board may make changes before taking a final vote next month.

The draft calls for the following:

• A preseason meeting with parents and students will cover expectations, and students will sign an anti-drug contract.

• After teams are selected, all athletes will be given a drug screening test. If they fail, students will take another test to confirm the results.

• Those who test positive must enroll in a 10-day drug intervention program and will be ineligible to play or practice their sport until they complete the program and pass another drug test. They then must pass a test every 30 days for the rest of their season.

• Consequences for the students' sports participation increase with further violations. However, the students' test results will not lead to disciplinary action such as suspension or expulsion, nor will the results be included in student records.



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