Rock Hill schools are exploring whether to randomly test student athletes for drug use.
Citing student surveys from last year that show 34 percent of Rock Hill teens have used marijuana and 12 percent have misused prescription pills, district officials pitched the idea to the school board at a meeting Monday night.
Principals and coaches have been discussing drug tests after recent drug-related arrests and incidents at schools, Associate Superintendent Luanne Kokolis told the board.
The school board didn't vote but told district leaders to move ahead and form a committee of residents and school representatives to look into it.
Details are fuzzy.
It's not clear how much the program would cost or whether middle schools would be included.
Northwestern High athletics director Bill Warren told the board that it would likely cost between $10 and $20 per student.
Although Monday's presentation focused on athletes, it's possible that all students in extracurricular activities would be randomly tested.
The Rock Hill school district wouldn't be the first to drug test students. At least seven South Carolina school systems, including Clover's, which started this year, screen students for drug use.
Generally, Warren said, school districts hire an outside firm to run the program. Students who test positive for drugs get counseling or are temporarily suspended from the extracurricular activity.
In some cases, drug testing students has been controversial. When the Clover school board considered the program, several parents raised concerns about privacy.
Before voting against drug tests, Clover school board member Kathy Cantrell said, "I'm opposed to this policy because at the most basic level I think it violates privacy and dignity."
It's about safety, Warren said.
"If you've got a batter up there facing a 90-mile-an-hour fast ball, are they going to have the reaction time to get out of the way?"
The U.S. Supreme Court sees it the same way. Safety concerns for high schoolers in interscholastic sports outweigh any minimal loss of privacy, the court ruled in 1995. In 2002, the court extended that to extracurricular activities of all kinds.
One benefit, Warren said, is it gives teens an excuse to avoid peer pressure to try drugs, as in, "No thanks, I'm getting tested."
At least one school board member has concerns.
"I've got a problem with this," Chairman Bob Norwood said. "Why are we picking on the athletes?
"If we're going to be doing this for the good of our kids, we should do it for as many kids as we can."
Before testing students, board member Jim Vining said, the district should start screening employees.
"You can include the board in that as well," he said.