Test results indicate drug use down among high schoolers in extracurricular activities
A random drug testing program implemented by the Douglas County School District more than two years ago appears to be discouraging drug use among high schoolers engaged in extracurricular activities.
At a school board meeting Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent Lyn Gorrindo reported that the positive test rate in the district had fallen from 3 percent in the 2009-10 school year to 1.3 percent in the 2010-11 school year.
Out of 773 tests administered last year, only eight came back positive, and only two tests were refused. In comparison, out of 757 tests administered during the first year of the program, 17 came back positive, and six tests were refused.
Because of confidentiality issues, the district can only release totals. Theoretically, a student may test positive more than once, so the numbers don’t necessarily correspond to separate students.
With that said, the eight positive tests recorded in the 2010-11 school year all came from Douglas High School. A total of 395 tests were administered, and only one was refused. In the 2009-10 school year, 478 tests were administered at Douglas High, and of those, five were refused, and six came back positive.
In the first year of the program, Whittell High School had the highest positive rate, 5.4 percent, with nine positive tests and one refusal out of 186. But in the 2010-11 school year, Whittell High School produced zero positive tests and zero refusals out of 231 tests administered.
The Valley’s two middle schools also had zero positive tests last year.
Out of 54 tests administered at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, 53 came back negative, and one was refused.
Out of 93 tests administered at Carson Valley Middle School, 93 came back negative, and no tests were refused. The year before, CVMS had two positive tests out of 72.
The district’s random drug testing program uses urine samples to identify alcohol, prescription drugs, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, nicotine, anabolic steroids, and designer drugs such as Spice and K2.
The program only applies to high school students engaged in extracurricular activities. The program runs year-round, meaning students can be tested in the off season.
The first positive test results in the loss of the remaining season or part of the upcoming season for the offending student. By the third offense, that same student permanently loses his or her extracurricular privileges.
District policy also requires violators to submit to follow-up tests and participate in drug counseling.
The program costs about $24,000 a year to maintain.
“Community-wise, parents see the value of it,” said Superintendent Lisa Noonan. “It’s another way to help kids say no, because that peer pressure is real.”