By Jesse Wood
Aug. 13, 2013. In a unanimous vote on Monday morning, the Watauga County Board of Education adopted a random drug testing policy on student-athletes attending Watauga High School.
The policy is effective for the 2013-14 school year. Athletes and parents/guardians are required to sign consent forms, and as WHS Principal Marshall Gasperson said last month, “If they don’t sign, they don’t play.”
At least 5 percent of all student athletes will be tested under the program, which will be funded by the Watauga County Board of Education.
In July, the Watauga County Board of Education read a draft policy and requested Gasperson to make minor changes to the policy and bring it back to the board in August.
At Monday’s meeting, Board Member Ron Henries asked Gasperson what feedback he received from community members about instituting a random drug testing policy at the high school for athletes.
“The only feedback I have had is from parents who are supportive,” Gasperson said, adding that he also heard second-hand from people who wanted staff and faculty to be tested as well.
Henries noted that several parents, who weren’t totally receptive to the policy, contacted him because it singles out athletes – and does not consider other students participating in extra-curricular activities.
As did Henries, Board Member Delora Hodges was also vocal about expanding the policy to cover students participating in other extra-curricular activities. Hodges said she would “like to include more groups, so athletes don’t feel picked on.” But she noted it’s about the health and well-being of the students.
Gasperson said the goal was to expand random drug testing to other activities by next summer. Henries told Gasperson to prepare information and bring the board a timeline at the end of the year regarding the expansion, so “this is not forgotten two years from now and we are just testing athletes.”
During the discussion, Henries mentioned that he was watching a Saturday morning TV show where doctors were talking about students using steroids for athletic gain.
“I was shocked at the percentages of students nationwide using steroids,” Henries said, adding that he was particularly shocked by the number of middle school students using them.
“If we prevent one kid from wrecking their body from side effects that come from this stuff, this policy works,” Henries said.
For more details about the policy and more discussion in the July meeting, click here.
To read the entire policy, click here.