The Polk Conuty Board of Education will have a month to think about whether they’ll approve a new policy presented during the virtual work session on Tuesday.
If approved, a new random drug testing policy will begin with the start of the 2020-21 academic year for students involved in co-curricular or extracurricular activities, or any student who wishes to obtain a parking pass for Rockmart or Cedartown High Schools.
The goal of the district isn’t to punish students, but to end negative impacts on the lives of those still in school who have substance abuse problems that spill over into the classroom. So to ensure students are getting the help they need and also to prevent unhealthy situations in schools, the new policy is being sought as a preventative measure.
In explaining the intent of the policy, Superintendent Laurie Atkins made it clear the goal is to help prevent drug abuse, and not punish students, by having them question whether drug use was worth the potential to miss out on activities that make up student life across the district.
It also hopes to find students in need who might not recognize their own substance abuse problems.
“If we can delay the onset of drug use, abuse or lessen the frequency, we are making a difference in diminishing the risk of addiction for students,” Atkins said.
The new policy’s language is clear that intervention for those who are found to have a substance abuse problem will begin first with counseling and parental involvement via a medial avenue for treatment, unless an issue is found that would require the intervention of the Polk School District Police.
Such a serious issue would be over immediate use, possession, sale or distribution on school grounds.
The measure is one that one board member believes will help not just invidivual students, but the whole of Polk County with substance abuse issues.
“I am proud of the new Drug Policy because of the position of compassion it takes toward those students who are found to have randomly been selected and tested positive. The policy dictates an ability for that student to receive help and in turn hoping to keep it from having progressed to an lifelong addiction. PSD is tasked with keeping our students safe and helping produce productive citizens and families,” Board Member Britt Madden said. “This policy is designed to do just that by taking steps to help our students now before negatively impacting generations to come.”