Mobile County school officials have a request of all 16,000 of its high school students.
Please, say, “Yes to the Test.”
The school system is expanding its drug testing program through which students and their parents can voluntarily sign up to be added to the pool of students who will be randomly selected for the tests.
“This will help students make the right choices,” Mobile County schools Superintendent Martha Peek said during a news conference this week. “Drug testing gives our student s a reason to say no, I’m not going to do this.”
Several thousand students are already signed up for the testing.
The intent of the drug tests is not to get any students in trouble for testing positive. Rather, those who are found to be using drugs will be referred to counseling services.
“I don’t want to know who’s caught,” said Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran. “I’m in this for prevention.”
By law, public school systems can test students who are involved in extra-curricular activities, who drive to school or whose parents sign them out.
Mobile County students who participate in extra-curriculars or who drive to campus will automatically have their names entered into the pool of students whose names can be drawn for the random tests.
Health officials will come to all of Mobile County’s 12 high schools to conduct urine tests that will be able to detect a wide range of drugs including: marijuana, cocain, opiates, methadone, ecstacy and spice.
These are drugs that teenagers most commonly have access to, said Virginia Guy, executive director of the Drug Education Council. “It’s going to be an extremely random process,” Guy said.
The school system is investing $25,000 in the testing program and is working closely with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Mobile United, the Drug Education Council and others who were present at the news conference.
Peek said this is part of a community-wide effort to make sure students are ready for college or the workforce. Many employers test potential employees for drugs, so encouraging students to stay clean now is important.
“This is one of the most exciting programs we’ve seen in a long time,” Guy said. “We are going to work with families (of students who use drugs) and do everything we can to help them.”