Avoyelles School Board may strengthen student athlete drug test policy

 

   High school athletes will probably have a greater chance of being selected for a random drug test next school year, but how good a chance has not yet been decided by the Avoyelles Parish School Board.
   The board’s Executive Committee discussed the issue at its Feb. 23 meeting, looking at 10 policies from other parishes. The committee asked to review Rapides Parish’s policy, which was provided to board members at the board’s March 1 meeting.
    The board did not vote on the issue at the meeting, but will be reviewing all of the information for a possible decision in April.
At the committee meeting, Superintendent Blaine Dauzat presented 10 parish school boards’ policies, selected at random, to compare with Avoyelles’ policy.
    “We ended up somewhere in the middle” between very lax and very strict, he said.
   Two districts, Sabine and Ascension, require every student athlete to be tested at the beginning of the year and be subject to random drug testing during the year.
   A few other parishes stated only that random drug tests could be ordered.  Most set a percentage -- 5, 10, 15 --of athletes to be tested.
  The current policy for Avoyelles District schools states that 10 percent of athletes, student drivers and those involved in other extracurricular activities are to be tested during the school year.
   Board President Darrell Wiley said the current policy could result in less than 5 percent of student athletes being tested during the year because they are lumped in with all other extracurricular activities.
    Wiley said Rapides tests student athletes based on the number of starting positions in the sport.
   For example, a baseball team has nine players, so nine baseball players are tested at random. The football team has 22 starters -- 11 on offense, 11 on defense -- so 22 would be tested. And so on.
   Based on comments at the committee meeting -- which was attended by most of the board members -- it is obvious that some change in the drug-testing policy is likely.
   It was suggested that to increase the number of student athletes subject to drug testing, the parish policy separate athletes from the other extracurricular participants. In that event, the policy would be to test 10 percent of athletes and 10 percent of other extracurricular participants.
  It is also possible that board members will adopt another district’s policy or adopt a revised version of a policy they believe would benefit students in this parish.
  During the committee meeting, Wiley said requiring drug tests “helps with discipline and it helps the kids. It can save a kid. There is no place in sports for drugs.” 

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