School Board Introduces Possible Student Drug Testing



Superintendent Arturo Almendarez and Daniel Rivera, district restorative practices and behavior coach, discuss the possibilities of a drug testing program with students in journalism class on Feb. 11.

Grace Villarreal and Gloria Gonzales

Because the superintendent and school board believe that students have a growing drug problem, by the fall of 2020 Calallen ISD might possibly start drug testing students.
Superintendent Arturo Almendarez and Daniel Rivera, district restorative practices and behavior coach, discussed the proposed drug testing policy and their hopes for the future health and safety of students.
“We have a drug problem,” Almendarez said. “Let’s not deny that. Every school, I think, has a drug problem.”
The school board has discussed starting a drug testing program at board meetings since October and since they all seem to agree it’s a necessary measure to take, they’re trying to figure out all the details.
Some high school students had mixed opinions on whether the school board should start drug testing.
“If that’s what the Calallen district wants to do, then it’s their decision,” senior Zach Almendarez said after mentioning that he was not really opposed to it.
Some students think that if Calallen were to make drug testing a school board policy that there wouldn’t be a change, due to the possibility that students would be able to use drugs but not have the substances show up depending on the timing of the test.
The school board has not decided on most of the final process and details of the plan, however.
Almendarez and Rivera said drug testing might occur each semester with no warning in advance and could include 20-50 random students from each grade.
The actual type of test and the student population, possibly extracurricular students and students with parking privileges, are still undecided. Almendarez and Rivera said they are hoping for a saliva test because it is very quick and can detect eight different types of drugs. Students who are taking prescribed medicine will not have anything to worry about because the district will use documentation in the nurse’s office to verify that they are taking prescribed medication.
If a student is found to be positive, the school will offer the student free counseling. The student will then attend counseling instead of any after school practice or competition. Also, for students driving to school, parking permits might possibly be taken away.
“We’re not out to punish anyone,” Almendarez said after being asked about the consequences of testing positive.
“The first time you’re caught you’re going to be dismissed from extracurriculars,” he said. “If you’re caught the first time you will be tested the next time. In other words, not only do we want to counsel you, we want you to clean yourself up.”
They said they expect that a lot of people might disagree with the policy, including parents who believe kids should be allowed to have fun and experiment in their teen years.
Rivera and Almendarez agreed that it’s true that some students might choose not to participate in extracurricular activities because of the drug testing program.
On the other hand, district officials are hoping that the program will encourage students to stop doing drugs because they care so much about the sport or club that they’re in.