The Polk County Board of Education approved of a new drug testing policy that will go into effect at the beginning of the new school year that is meant to help teens who might have substance abuse issues.
Board members voted unanimously to approve the policy after it was tabled for a month for review, and it sets new guidelines for how students are to be tested, and what happens if they are found to be using drugs.
Students who participate in after school clubs, academic organizations, athletics or any driver seeking a parking pass are now subject to random drug screening starting with the return of the school year for the 2020-21 academic calendar — currently slated for August.
The intent of the policy is to provide a way to help students who might be dealing with substance abuse issues without immediately jumping to a final step like expulsion, but instead utilize resources like the partnership with Willowbrooke at Tanner to find counseling resources and more.
Superintendent Laurie Atkins previously said the hope is that random drug screening won’t be a tool that has to be used within the district and that students should ask themselves whether substance abuse is worth the risk of losing out on activities they love, and the privilege of being able to drive and park on campus.
It also hopes to find students in need who might not recognize their own substance abuse problems.
Anyone who is found positive for drugs in their system will, based on the severity of an issue, be forwarded to counseling and parental involvement and a medical path of treatment before law enforcement becomes involved.
However, if students are found to be in use, possession of or selling any kind of drugs, Polk School District Police will get involved.
It was one of the few items of business for the district during their work session, which included the approval of a chair lift from Cedartown High School’s band and chorus rooms of past to be put up for sale as surplus.
They also approved of the local plan for the 2021 Fiscal Year for the College and Career Academy program, which is a annual state requirement.