NORMAN, Okla. - The Norman school board approved random drug testing for high school students involved in extra-curricular activities at their meeting Monday night.
District officials said they are one of the last 6A districts to adopt a policy like it. They will begin in August and test approximately 60 students a year at an annual cost of $20,000.
District officials said they have been working on the policy for a couple years now and it had nothing to do with the recent passage of medical marijuana in our state.
The random tests will be conducted using a cheek swab.
The first positive drug test will result in a meeting with the school and require the student to seek appropriate counseling or treatment. The second positive test will result in suspension from the activity for two weeks, and the third would result in suspension from the activity for the remainder of the school year.
At least one Norman group showed up to the board meeting in opposition to the drug-testing policy.
"I don't think drug testing, as a whole, would do any good because it still contributes to the prisons a pipeline,” said Madison Lovell with Norman Citizens for Racial Justice. "I just think that we should invest in our students rather than criminalize our students, and that's going to be the thing that prevents substance abuse."
Lovell believes the policy could be unfair to minority or low income groups.
"It's a huge deterrent for communities of color and communities of low income, so I see that as a huge deterrent for getting people involved in these extra-curricular activities, which are proven to reduce substance abuse,” Lovell said.
"Wanted to honor the school board for doing something very tough,” said Ann Benson.
Benson also attended the meeting but spoke in favor of the policy. She volunteers with organizations that treat substance abuse and said the program can be instrumental in helping families with early intervention.
"To provide some awareness, and knowledge and resources can make all the difference in saving a life,” Benson said. "The school board here is very, very much about helping helping our young people. This is not a punitive measure, the way I'm seeing it."
District officials said positive test results will not be shared with law enforcement or result in any academic consequences.