DENISON, TX-Denison student athletes will now be forced to take drug tests before they can play any sport. Victoria Maranan was at the school board meeting when they approved the new measure.
The Denison school board voted unanimously Tuesday night on a new policy that requires athletes from 7th grade to seniors in high school be tested for drugs before participating in sports. I spoke with a school official and the athletics director, who say they support the new rule.
Tuesday night, the Denison school board voted to pass a policy requiring student athletes in middle school and high school undergo mandatory drug testing before playing any sport. The issue was brought to the district's attention by Denison athletic director and head football coach, Cody White.
"I don't think there's probably a coach in the state that hasn't dealt with it in some level. You know it's been, I've been in a lot of places and it's an issue. You know it's a societal problem," he said.
The mandatory drug tests will be done on school grounds by an independent drug testing lab. White said the test will not only detect drug use among student athletes, but it will also help protect them because playing under the influence can be dangerous.
"You're putting a lot of high stress physiologically in practices and in competition. Obviously there's danger involved where there is compromising your physiology through the use of these drugs," he said.
Assistant superintendent, Dr. George Hatfield, supports Coach White's proposal, saying that students' safety is one of the district's top priorities and he said the new rule can help students make the right decision.
"The policy really is an attempt to give them a reason to say no and there's a lot of peer pressure out there to be involved in the drug culture. And so the policy is really not to catch kids doing anything," he said.
With the new policy, if a student fails the drug test for the first time, they will be sent in for counseling but will still be able to play. But failing the test after that will mean, not only more counseling, but losing more playing time and possibly suspension from the team.
"We don't want it to be an issue where you take something away from them right away. We want to offer them help and guidance and counsel and then the next step will be some loss of playing time, but the biggest thing is to try to give them some help," said White.
Dr. Hatfield said students will receive information about the mandatory drug testing after Christmas break. While the policy will mainly effect student athletes, Hatfield said any parent is welcome to send their child in for drug testing through the district.
Student athletes will be tested starting this spring.