If Batesville Community School Corp. trustees had voted Aug. 19 on whether to begin random drug testing of students, the decision would have been close.
But trustees were just beginning to discuss the issue and want more research and input from citizens before they decide whether or not to enact a policy. Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts said the topic will be on the Monday, Sept. 16, agenda and maybe after that as well. The public meeting takes place at 6 p.m. at the Batesville Middle School commons.
Roberts pointed out, “We have no policy in regards to random drug testing, but there has been some dialog,” first at a series of 2011 public forums about underage drug use and more recently in Coalition for a Drug-Free Batesville meetings. A January CDFB survey showed 88.2 percent reported they would support schools requiring drug testing of students prior to participation in voluntary activities, such as being on sports teams, participating in clubs or driving to school.
Trustee Wanita Linkel asked, “How many area schools do random testing?” According to Roberts, “There are a few,” including Sunman-Dearborn and Greensburg. “Rushville was one of the first. They were a test case” that went all the way to the Supreme Court in the 1990s.
Trustee Dr. Steve Stein wondered, “What have studies shown? Obviously, we’d like to stop kids from using drugs and alcohol, but does random testing affect that?” The superintendent said, “You won’t find significant difference between schools that test and don’t.” BCSC President Chris Lowery reported, “There are not a lot of studies out there.” He said the American Academy of Pediatrics is opposed to the testing “because of its inconclusive nature and … students’ privacy.”
Stein said, “Let’s say you have a student … acting strange. Would this give us the ability …. to test him?” Trustee Ray Call suggested the student be referred to a nurse. Because of the random nature of the tests, Roberts didn’t know if an athlete suspected of using could be targeted.
Call observed, “I would do anything on a personal level to keep kids from using drugs and alcohol. Random drug testing, I just don’t think, … will be much of a deterrent.” The Delta Air Lines pilot, who submits to surprise tests, reported, “I find it wildly invasive and irritating.” As an alternative, he asked if dogs are still used to sniff out drugs. The superintendent said the police K-9s “have been a regular part of our drug control.” According to trustee Cindy Blessing, “Students have become smarter.” Because dogs search lockers and vehicles in the parking lot, students perhaps bring drugs, concealed in clothing or bags, into classrooms instead.
Lowery said, “This is a heartbreaking issue. It ruins lives, it ruins families. It’s detrimental to our society.” Still, he was concerned about students being protected by the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. “My belief is we have a school corporation that educates students … I also believe there are roles and responsibilities of others in society, such as law enforcement, such as parents.” Later in the discussion, he proposed, “What if we had an option that was a little bit different? What if we ... partnered up with law enforcement and said drug test kits are available for you to administer to your own children? Does the government better decide that or does the family better decide that?”
Call asked if educators would be tested if students are. Roberts replied that by law, of all employees, only bus drivers undergo drug testing because of safety considerations.
Blessing referred to health services director Gayla Vonderheide’s report earlier that night. “We’re trying to raise healthy children in our community. We’re checking BMIs, we’re checking blood pressures” in physical education classes. “Students if they do test positive (for drugs) would not be arrested,” but sent to health professionals to get help. Knowing they could be found positive for drug use gives youth “one more tool to use to abstain. If you save even one student,” it’s worthwhile.
Linkel felt the prospect of submitting to a drug test “would be something to open the kids’ eyes, maybe, to make them think before they use.”
Stein said some parents are neglectful. “Sometimes the school must be kind of a parent to kids because they don’t have that guidance at home.” He wanted proof that random drug testing is a deterrent.
BHS art teacher Kyle Hunteman, who played soccer at Jennings County High School, said drug tests were used. He felt pressure from teammates to abstain from illegal substances. “I saw a difference there” because of the possibility of being tested.
Linkel proposed asking area schools for data. According to the superintendent, “I think you’d be getting perception data. I’m not sure any have scientific studies.” He added if a drug testing policy is created, trustees must decide how many students will be tested, how often and “how much you’re willing to spend.”
He promised, “We can follow up with some additional research for you.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
More meeting details • When BCSC reports its "average daily membership" (number of students) to the Indiana Department of Education in mid-September for future funding, the total is projected at 2,096, up 35 students or 1.7 percent. Class sizes range from 149 in grade 3 to 204 sophomores. There are 160 kindergartners this year. • The general fund balance is $1.28 million, 9.6 percent of appropriations, higher than the 8 percent goal. • Due to a minor technicality, fuel bids couldn't be accepted. BCSC will invite quotes for nine months from three vendors. • Out-of-state families who want their children to attend BCSC will pay transfer fees because the state does not reimburse districts for out-of-staters, trustees decided. • Personnel recommendations were approved. Certified - maternity leaves: Becky Rauch, BPS second-grade teacher; and Megan Spreckelson, BHS consumer and family sciences teacher; maternity leave replacement: Kera Davis, BPS second-grade teacher; transfer: Becky Rauch, BPS kindergarten teacher (from second grade); new: Suzanne Pieczonka, BMS language arts teacher; Kyle Hunteman, BHS part-time fine arts teacher; addition of days to 2013-14 contract: Suzanne Kunkel, BPS associate principal; Classified -resignation: Kristen Selmeyer, BIS fifth-grade instructional assistant; new: Lisa Fitzpatrick, BPS Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative paraprofessional/RN; Virginie Tidman, BPS ROD paraprofessional; Sarah Massey, BPS reading tutor; Mary Jo Reer, BIS fifth-grade instructional assistant; Julie Lambert, BIS Title I paraprofessional; Kate Enneking, BIS ED classroom aide; Betsy Sherwood, BIS ED classroom instructional assistant; Leslee Jones and Shelly Burns, BMS ROD paraprofessionals; Nicole Christie, BMS receptionist; Monica Hooten, BCSC technical support specialist; Extracurricular - resignation: Lori Sarringhaus, BMS yearbook sponsor; one-time HealthierUS School Challenge stipends for cafeteria managers: Luettie Harrison, BPS; Jane Tekulve, BIS; and Berna Meyer, BMS; and Megan Spreckelson, BHS consumer and family sciences teacher; new: Shelly Prickel, BMS volleyball eighth-grade coach; Kayla Bradley, BMS cross country assistant coach; Kent Sitterding, BMS temporary football coach; Charlie Raab, BHS Student Council sponsor; Cassie Mumaw, BHS sophomore class sponsor and senior class sponsor; Molly Waechter, BHS volleyball freshman coach; Dan Geisen, BHS volleyball freshman volunteer coach; Tom Meyer, BHS boys golf coach.