Reactions have started to come in regarding a Michigan high school’s policy allowing student-athletes to be randomly drug tested.
The new Plainwell High School policy allows students’ urine to be tested for nicotine, marijuana, opioids and other drugs like methamphetamine. Parents must sign permission forms to consent to the testing, which will be done at least once every trimester.
The policy, which is being rolled out this week, is receiving mixed feedback regarding its expected effectiveness.
“So far, parents and students have been positive and have turned in all the necessary forms to participate,” Superintendent Matthew Montange told MLive.com last week, noting that no students have opted out of the program.
School officials envision the testing as a way to escape peer pressure.
"If a kid is in situation, where he wants to say 'No,' he can tell them he doesn't want to jeopardize his extracurriculars, and I think that's a great idea,” Plainwell girls basketball coach Tim Rieman told MLive.com.
“What I like about it is that it’s overall going to help not only athletes, but students overall,” said a parent who spoke anonymously. "Hopefully it deters them from drinking, doing any kind drugs or vaping. If that can eliminate people doing that, I think all the kids the school system are better off.
"It gives them another choice to combat the peer pressure thing, so I think it's good and good for the parents to know that if they do get tested that they pass."
Conversely, several students and parents expressed concerns regarding the equity of the policy, as well as beliefs that it may discourage kids from extracurriculars.
"The biggest concern I have is there are some kids that use athletics or extracurriculars in general keep them on the straight and narrow, and they are positive for those kid's lives," said an anonymous parent. "If they get caught vaping once, twice, they can get taken out of that. These kids who instead of spending time on sports, music, whatever it may be, they get that taken away from that, and it gives them time to do other things and not have those positive influences in their lives."
Of the 300 students participating in extracurricular activities, 10 percent of males and 10 percent of females will be tested. Each drug test costs $4.88 and will be funded by the school’s student activity fund.
"It is picking on just a few people. Not only is it picking on them, but it can make matters worse,” said freshman David Stout, who plays football. "The kids doing these activities are often kept away from drugs, because it occupies them. It gives them something to focus on. These kids may be discouraged from participating in those activities. If they are caught and kicked out, they may never commit to those activities again. Giving them more time to get into trouble.”
“The benefits are already being shown, as I can see some of my peers cutting down on use of the drugs they are testing for, especially vaping,” an anonymous student said. “The negative side of this is the kids that all they have is sports in life might be swayed away from playing if they know they can’t stay clean.”