By Paul Myers
exeter – Where going to school is a right, playing sports in school is a privilege. And with any privilege there are rules if you want to participate. The latest rule to be handed down from Exeter Unified School District (EUSD) is mandatory parental consent for drug and steroid testing of student athletes.
If parents choose to not give their consent, then their child will not be allowed to participate in school athletics of any kind.
According to Exeter Unified Superintendent Tim Hire, drug and steroid testing is primarily a matter of student safety. However there are other intended consequences as well. The text of the new regulation passed by the EUSD board states the purpose to be safety, a tool to combat peer pressure to use drugs, discourage drug use campus-wide, and encourage students who use drugs to participate in drug treatment programs. EUSD has ensured that drug treatment programs are a large part of the response to testing positive, and there is a large scope of what the district is testing for. The full list of tested substances are: marijuana metabolite, cocaine metabolite, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), amphetamines, alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, propaxyhene (Darvocet), methadone, oxycotin, and steroids.
If an athlete’s test is positive for any one of these substances they will be immediately excluded from participation from athletics for a full two weeks. Then they must test negative for any of the substances or provide a doctor’s note stating that it is safe for them to return. And that is in conjunction with a 12 week (12 session) education/counseling program held at the school, which includes up to six random drug tests.
A second positive test will make athletes ineligible for six full weeks, and include the 12 week program. A third positive test will result in a full calendar year of ineligibility and an even stricter program. In addition to the 12 week education/counseling program, athletes will have to submit to random drug tests for the rest of their high school athletic career. A fourth test will result in athletes being permanently ineligible for the rest of their high school athletic career.
Athletes can opt out of the 12 week course provided by the district if they have another acceptable provider. Athletes can also not enroll in the program, but they will not be allowed to return to athletics until the program is completed. Therefore, athletes who do not choose to enter the program can extend their ineligibility indefinitely.
The results of a positive test are cumulative, meaning that if an athlete tests positive his senior year he is subject to the first response of two weeks of ineligibility and the 12 week program. If the same athlete tests positive his junior year, he will be subject to the second response of six weeks of ineligibility plus the 12 week program.
Hire noted that testing will be randomized and up to 15 athletes will be tested per week. If an athlete is selected then they will be asked to provide a urine sample that will be handed off to an organization titled, Recovery Resources. Recovery Resources uses Redwood Toxicology Laboratory in Santa Rose to analyze urine samples.
According to a source in Recovery Resources, it takes between five days and two weeks to receive the results.
Testing student athletes casts a wide net in identifying drug use on campus. According to Hire two-thirds of the student population is student athletes. Therefore, two-thirds of the student population can now be tested for drugs when they could not before. And the remaining one-third of students could be tested if their parents choose to enter into the drug testing program.
Other schools could not be reached to inquire whether they had similar programs before press time, and a follow up article will appear in next week’s issue of The Foothills Sun-Gazette.