In Drexel, students who want to park at school now must be willing to submit to random drug testing.
The new policy, which covers on-campus parking, also covers extracurricular activities, clubs and sports for students in grades 7 to 12.
Parents were asked to sign a permission or opt-out form within the first 10 days of school this year in order for their children to participate or park. Superintendent Terry Mayfield says the policy was an effort to increase safety for all students.
“We had some conversations with coaches, the community, parents and board members who wanted to have an added layer of protection for our students,” Mayfield said. “We wanted our students to be able to participate in a safe and healthy environment.”
Providing a safe environment and promoting an atmosphere of health and wellness is something Mayfield believes is critical to the philosophy and overall mission of the Drexel School District. The program is designed to give students who may be under peer pressure to use drugs an effective “out.”
Another goal is to give students a reason to avoid drugs, alcohol or tobacco, and to quit if they have started.
Drexel included campus parking because school administrators decided safety in the parking lot was just as important as safety at other activities.
“We saw it as a trend for schools while researching our policy. A lot of school districts are including students who park on campus. That gives more safety for the population of students who drive and kids on campus as well,” Mayfield said.
All students, from kindergarten to grade 12, go to school on the same campus in Drexel. Mayfield says the policy has been well received and only a handful of their 150 students in grades 7 through 12 have opted out.
Two other high schools in Cass County have similar policies: the Sherwood and Belton school districts.
Belton High School has about 1,300 students in grades 9 through 12. Sherwood has about 500 in their middle and high school. School leaders at both schools have asked students to submit to random drug testing.
Like Drexel’s policy, Sherwood’s covers parking on campus as well as club and sport participation.
Brady Hammond, athletic director at Belton High School, says he believes anything you can do to stop kids from making bad decisions is worthwhile.
“It allows us to provide support for those kids,” Hammond said. “When we do get a kid who fails, which isn’t very often, parents are always very appreciative. A lot of times they had no idea. It’s a good thing for us.”
Joy Turner, who serves in the Sherwood High School office and has worked for the district for more than 20 years, says most students and parents choose to willingly participate in the policy.
“It goes pretty well and smoothly for our students,” Turner said.
At Drexel, those who do not submit to the drug testing forfeit the right to participate in any extracurricular activities or to drive to school and park on campus. Drexel, like Sherwood and Belton, is contracting with a third-party vendor to provide the drug testing services.
No other districts in Cass County have mandatory random drug testing for extracurricular activities.