Random Drug Testing Proposal Draws Concerns

By: Cameron Taylor Email
By: Cameron Taylor Email
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PANAMA CITY - Bay District Schools Board Member Joe Walker believes something needs to be done about drugs in schools. During Tuesday's board meeting, Walker pointed out the district expelled 24 students last year for drug and drug paraphenelia possession.

That's up from 16 students the year before. Walker's proposing the school district randomly drug test students involved in athletics and non-academic clubs.

"This board is going to try to do something to get the illegal drugs off campus as much as we can," School Board Member Joe Walker said.

Walker says he considered Escambia District Schools' drug policy while formulating his proposal. Students who violate the policy are sent to drug counciling instead of being suspended or expelled.

A representative from a drug testing company told the board it will cost $25 for each student tested, but the whole idea isn't sitting well with Superintendent Bill Husfelt.

"I just am very worried about the idea of random drug testing on students and what we're doing is we're punishing the kids because they're involved by testing them," Husfelt said.
At least one parent isn't too pleased either.

"What I don't want is for [my son] to be accused of doing something that he's not doing or even suspected of it,"James Hearon said.

District officials seemed to be focusing more on counciling and prevention. They also discussed the return of drug sniffing dogs to local campuses.

The district used to pay the Bay County Sheriff's Office to use the dogs, but that program fell victim to budget cuts a few years ago.

Board members did not make a decision at Tuesday's meeting, promising to look at several other options in the coming weeks.

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