Random drug tests are a way to promote a healthier lifestyle among student athletes, said Bailey Jackson, Clover High School athletic director.
“We hope it deters any drug use for our athletics program,” he said. “It was put in place to promote overall wellness and good health.”
The Rock Hill school district is considering a policy that would call for random drug testing among student-athletes. The program could be similar to one already in place in Clover schools.
The Clover school district introduced a drug testing policy seven years ago that tests student athletes for the illegal use of drugs and performance-enhancing substances.
The district does random team testing, in which all players of a particular sports team are tested, once a season. Individual testing of student-athletes also is done randomly on a day during a sports season. The policy applies only to high school students.
“Our students know it’s part of being an athlete at Clover High School and it’s what is expected,” Jackson said. “We expect student-athletes not to take part in these types of activities and hope it deters all of them from doing anything.”
The policy allows for random tests throughout the school year for evidence of alcohol, marijuana, opiates, cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP, Ecstasy, oxycodone, steroids and hydrocodone. The school district picks up the tab for drug testing at Clover High School, which totaled $10,550 in the 2015-2016 school year, said Mark Hopkins, executive director of secondary education and administrative Services for the Clover school district.
“I’m confident that the program is working as a deterrent,” he said. “We were able to communicate that our purpose was to help students who may need it and open conversations if ones needed to be open.”
Clover uses Keystone Substance Abuse Services to administer the random tests and offer counseling that is required of students with more than one positive test.
A second or third positive drug test means counseling and ineligibility for Clover’s student-athletes.
Keystone offers prevention, counseling and treatment options for substance abuse problems.
Brian Butts, facilities manager for Keystone Substance Abuse Services in Rock Hill, said the organization provides random drug test services to schools and businesses.
“It’s used as a deterrent,” he said. “I think it’s pretty effective.”
Butts said many schools do random drug tests for student-athletes.
“They want kids playing with a clear mind,” he said. “It’s a safety issue.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it is legal to test students participating in extracurricular activities due to safety concerns. However, testing all students is not legal.
Jackson, who is a parent of a student-athlete, said he supports random drug tests.
“It’s a way to make sure it’s not happening,” he said. “This is something that was put in place to promote healthier people in general.”
Jackson said he has not heard any negative feedback on Clover’s drug testing program. However, reactions were mixed when the policy was first discussed.
“We understand the debate going on in Rock Hill. We went through it,” Hopkins said. “We had people on both sides of the issue and asking the same questions, but as we sit here seven years later it has become what we do, what is expected from parents and athletes and has been overall positive in terms of the effect on minimizing the potential for drug abuse.”
Chester schools also randomly test student-athletes for drug use, but the Fort Mill and York school districts do not.
Clover’s Athletic Drug Test Policy
- Clover uses both general team testing and individual testing.
- Team testing: All members of a Clover High School athletic team are summoned to a central location for drug testing on a random date during a sport season. Students are then tested individually.
- Individual testing: The school will call student-athletes individually, at random, during the athletic season for testing.
- The first time a student tests positive, his or her parent or legal guardian is notified, along with the district administrator for student services or superintendent.
- With a second positive test, the student may not participate in sports for five days and must complete a substance abuse counseling program. The student’s parents are notified with a face to face conference or phone call with the principal or athletic director.
- A third positive test results in ineligibilty for athletics for the remainder of the sports season. The student must complete a substance abuse counseling program and his or her parent or guardian is notified with a face to face conference or phone call with the principal or athletic director.
- Any student that is absent for a team test will be tested individually on a random date.
- Students start over with a clean slate each school year.
- Students who refuse to participate in random drug testing are ineligible to play sports.
- The policy only applies to high school athletes.
More information can be found on the Clover School District’s website - www.clover.k12.sc.us.