PRC school to discuss drug testing athletes at May 9 meeting.

Published 1:36 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Pearl River County school board voted Monday night to place on its May 9 agenda the discussion of adoption of a policy of drug testing athletes. Board members cautioned that they had not made any decision on the issue, but would only explore it.

The vote was unanimous and came while the board was discussing school policies with Dr. Kay Clay, an independent consultant who is helping the board upgrade its school policies using the Mississippi School Board Association’s model policies as a guide.

When the school’s policies are updated, they will be placed on-line to inform school district students and parents. Under discussion Monday night here was policies referring to students, in what the board termed Book 4.

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School board attorney Jim Keith told the board that such a decision on drug testing athletes is “a big, expensive decision” and should be thoroughly explored before a policy is adopted and implemented.

The board then adopted a resolution, saying the issue would be placed on the May 9 agenda and discussed.

Keith said the board would “need the administration and coaches involved” in such a decision.

Board member Jeremy Weir, who made the motion that it be put on the agenda for discussion, said he has worked at two schools that had such a policy and said he believes Poplarville has a drug testing policy for athletes.

“It’s not a deal where you just cut a kid if he fails the drug test. The kid has to go to counseling. . .,” said Weir.

Dr. Clay said that the MSBA model policy provides for multiple testing of a student who fails a first test.

Keith told the board that the testing, if approved, would have to be done by an independent outside agency, not the school, and that procedures would have to be set up under which the program would operate.

Weir is a former head coach of the Pearl River Central Blue Devils and is currently an assistant coach at Stone County High School.

He still lives in the Pearl River County school district 2. He won election to the board last November.

Michelle Boyd seconded Weir’s motion, and the board voted unanimously, 5-0, to place the matter on the May 9 agenda.

The Monday night meeting was a working session where the board looked at a number of policies and compared current school policies to the model policies of the MSBA. It was a recessed session.

Supt. Dennis E. Penton was absent.

In other matters the board approved the March 21 and 28 board minutes.

The board also looked at alternative education program policies and at a GED policy. It approved an addendum to the Pearl River County School District Grading Policy that specifies transfer students, and approved amending the Cafeteria Meal Accommodation Charge Policy for the 2011-2012 school year.

The board also looked at, but did not say whether or not it would include, a school policy offering a $500 reward for students furnishing information concerning another student who carries a weapon onto school grounds.

Dr. Clay told the board that one of the most important steps the board is taking is to get the policies on-line so everyone can be informed about them. “That is the most important thing, so that parents, students, teachers and the school board can review and look up these policies when they need to,” she said.

“When they are on-line, anyone can get on-line and find out what the policies of the school district are,” she added.

“This school board should be commended for working toward this project and to that end,” Dr. Clay told the board.