New drug testing rules for Shelby County Schools students - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New drug testing rules for Shelby County Schools students

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MEMPHIS, TN -

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Schools students who participate in extracurricular activities may soon be subject to random drug testing.

School officials and board members met Thursday afternoon to discuss the new policy.  They said it is a way to keep schools drug and alcohol free and give students a chance to shape up.

"Another tool in the tool chest for a kid as a deterrent against peer pressure," said Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken.

Aitken said the measure will allow schools to randomly test students for drugs and alcohol, regardless of whether there is reasonable suspicion.  He said new legislation by the State of Tennessee means individual school districts can set their own drug-testing policies.

Before the law went into effect, schools could test for drugs only if they had probable cause to believe a student was using drugs.

"We were doing some random drug testing for extracurricular activities in many of our high schools based on Supreme Court opinion and the wants of the public," said Aitken.  "The Supreme Court ruled it was OK, but in 2007, the Attorney General had a differing opinion and there have been arguments going back and forth."

Under the new policy, parents would have to provide written permission for the tests.  

School officials said students who test positive for drugs will not be suspended or expelled.  Instead, they may have to take part in a drug treatment program.

The tests cost about $11 each.  The district hopes to fund the program through donations and community partnerships.  

If the proposed policy is approved by the board, it could be implemented by the end of October.

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