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      Sharyland ISD prepares for first round of random drug testing

      Participating in clubs and sport is considered a privilege at most schools.

      Now students at both Sharyland ISD junior highs and the high school will be subject to mandatory random drug testing beginning next month.

      The Sharyland school board has been considering a random drug testing program since 2000.

      This year the program was finally set in stone.

      We realize that we do have some children that may have a drug or alcohol addiction, Dr. Virginia Richter said.

      Dr. Richter said the program is a pro-active measure to help students who use drugs.

      In the past, students caught with drugs on campus are suspended for three days.

      We are not really helping our student, we are suspending them sending them back to the environment where they may have access to the drugs," she said.

      If a student tests positive for drugs, he or she will be suspended from participating in school activities for 15 days.

      To prevent further drug use, the student will also be required to take a 4-hour drug abuse counseling course.

      "Instead of reinventing the wheel we checked with other districts around the state to find out what it is they do," Dr. Richter said.

      The district held more than a dozen meetings with parents outlining the new program.

      Dr. Richter said the number one question asked is why students in extra-curricular activities were singled out.

      "They have a right to come to school and be in school, but they have a choice to participate in an extra-curricular activity, she said. So those things that are privileges are the ones that we can test."

      More than half of the district TMs student population participates in extra-curricular activities.

      The district joins two other Valley school districts, Lyford CISD and Roma ISD, who have already implemented the program.

      The first round of drug testing is expected to happen before the Thanksgiving break.

      Students have the right to refuse a drug test but there are consequences.

      The refusal is interpreted as a positive drug test and the student could be punished.

      Dr. Richter said students names were put into a database by the company performing the drug testing.

      A computer will periodically pick 10 percent of the students in the database for random drug testing.

      Those students will be taken from class to a central location for the test.

      All specimens will be shipped to California for testing.

      If a student fails, parents will be notified.