District enforces student-athlete drug testing

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Mabel Kabani and Oliver Gallop, opinion editor and graphics editor

The Board of Education and District Office have, in the past year, worked cooperatively to create a program that enables administration to randomly test student-athletes for drugs prohibited in California.

According to Toby Spainhower, Coordinator of Special Projects and Student Services at the district office, the goal of these random drug tests is to “make sure athletes are safe during a game by ensuring that [they are] free from the influence of any illegal substances.”

However, Student Board Member Jason Friedman feels the tests accomplish a different, more pre-meditative goal.

“The point of the drug testing is to deter first time and repeat drug users,” Friedman said.

The district and board, according to Spainhower, have reached the conclusion that though budget cuts tighten the district’s economic situation, paying $1300 for all 20 students that are tested is worth the assurance of student safety.

“The money comes from the general fund and so far we have only tested a rather small sampling; this is our pilot year,” Spainhower said. “The testing is completely random and for the fall season, we have only tested 11 boys and nine girls, all of which tested negative.”

Spainhower further elaborated that the student-athletes tested are chosen at random from a lottery. Though the testing is random, the variety of students that were tested was nearly perfectly divided by sport, age and gender.

Substances being tested for, according to the legal documentation of the program, are “anything considered illegal by California law or which is controlled by the Food and Drug Administration,” which includes but is not limited to alcohol, marijuana, narcotics and other prescription drugs. Any method, such as oral swabs or urine analysis, is permitted to detect the trace of drugs in the testee’s body.

According to Spainhower, students are susceptible to being tested if parents, in the beginning of the year, sign the sports contract, which grants permission to test the students. If the contract was not signed, students are not allowed to participate in the sport. Testing occurs at random and unexpected times and is conducted by the company, Bensinger, DuPont and Associates. If students are absent during testing and are randomly chosen, the school will give them a warning. There are consequences for the subsequent absences.

“On the second absence, there is a one- game suspension,” Friedman said. “On the third absence on a drug testing day, students receive a three-game suspension along with mandatory testing.”

For students who test positive, the district is “attempting to keep matters as private as possible, since the situation is quite private,” Spainhower said. The first of- fence, according to her, will result in the test results being sent to parents in writing through certified mail. It will also result in another test within a “timely manner” prior to the completion of the season. The second offence will result in a one-game suspension and mandatory testing at random intervals to be determined by Superintendent Dr. Gary Woods as well as a designated district administrator. The last and final offense will lead to a three game suspension along with mandatory testing at random intervals.

According to Spainhower, students tested positive are not susceptibletobeingsuspendedor expelled from school unless they are caught using illegal substances on campus.

The first drug testing of fall sports took place on Nov. 20 with male and female athletes from all levels of football, cross country, girls volleyball and boys water polo. In addition, any athletes on Physical Education contract for a sport in a different season were liable for being testing.

Senior Joey Leifer, who is on P.E. contract, was pulled out of class during his fourth period. His fourth period teacher, Deb Joseph, received a call from the attendance office and told Leifer to walk down.

“When I got there, they told me to go the nurse’s office,” Leifer said. “There I was informed that I had been selected for random drug testing.”

Bensinger, DuPont associates conducted swab tests on Leifer and the other randomly chosen students. The swab tests provided results within minutes.

After undergoing testing, Leifer disapproves of the current system at Beverly.

“[Drug testing] singles out athletes. It is an invasion of privacy. What’s next? Random Facebook checks?” Leifer said. “If the athletes get tested, everyone should get tested.”

Though the results were all negative, ath- letic administrator Vonzie Paysinger did not see much use in testing athletes.

“We have been kept completely in the dark about the entire procedure,” Paysinger said. “Not only that, but we have not even been informed about the goals and results of the testings.” Paysinger also questioned the purpose of drug testing after the end of the season, calling it “a waste of money.”

According to Spainhower, the planning of the drug testing and the approvals that were needed took around six to eight months, a longer time than anticipated.

“We were behind schedule for the fall drug testing, but we will definitely make the winter and spring testing more timely,” Spainhower said.

The first drug testing, according to Spainhower, was a success, though the procedure was less prompt than expected.

“The hope was that all students be tested negative for traces of illegal substances, and they were,” Spainhower said. “Testing is, of course, still necessary, but we hope to stay consistent in the results we have received already.”

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