The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 16, 2013

Student drug testing

— One of the biggest factors looming over our area is drug abuse.

It threatens every community in southern West Virginia. It seems no neighborhood is immune to the ills of drugs.

That’s why we support the effort that Raleigh County Schools is attempting to help prevent abuse among its students.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug abuse and addiction cost taxpayers nearly $534 billion each year in preventable health care, law enforcement, crime and other costs in the United States. The organization goes on to say the assessment is “preventable: The best approach to reducing the tremendous toll substance abuse exacts from individuals, families and communities is to prevent the damage before it occurs.”

That’s what a random drug testing program in public secondary schools could help do in Raleigh County: Prevent children from getting hooked on drugs and going down a path of destruction.

The proposed policy is currently up for a 30-day comment period as of Tuesday’s monthly board of education meeting, and it merits review.

As always, we hope that folks get involved, educate themselves and let their voice be heard in this critical matter.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University states that there are “10 questions every parent should ask their child’s school,” in regard to how it addresses drugs and alcohol:

1. What does the school do to keep tobacco, alcohol and drugs off school premises?

2. What education and prevention programs are offered to children in what grades — is it enough to make a difference?

3. Are teachers and other staff trained to spot signs of drug abuse and know how to respond?

4. Are teachers and other staff aware of circumstances that place children at higher risk of substance abuse, such as learning disabilities, discipline problems, eating disorders, depression and anxiety, and frequent mobility from school to school? If so, does the school intervene early?

5. What does the school do if it suspects a child may be smoking, drinking or using drugs? Does the school tell the child’s parents?

6. Does the school screen or test for substance use? If so, under what circumstances?

7. If a substance abuse problem is identified in a child, what help does the school provide — either directly or by referral?

8. What action does the school take if a child is caught possessing or using alcohol, cigarettes or drugs — or selling drugs?

9. Does the school engage parents, students and community organizations in substance abuse prevention?

10. What are the substance use policies for teachers and other school staff?

We feel that if the policy helps curtail the drug scourge, it’s worth a try.

It’s not just a punishment-seeking idea. The consequences for a positive drug test include drug counseling.

This policy alone won’t end drug abuse in our area. The above questions could be equal parts of the equation.

Shouldn’t we do all we can, taking on all of the necessary measures, in this fight to rescue our region from a plague that threatens our very future?

We feel that testing is a part of the bigger picture in giving our children a step in the right direction — and one more motivation to say ‘No’ to drugs.

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To review the policy, go to the Raleigh County Schools website at

Look for the link titled “Revised Policy D.2.11 on additional 30-day comment” under the News category.