School district mulls athlete drug testing

The last time that Grand County School District officials discussed the possibility of doing drug testing on high school students participating in extracurricular activities was in 2017, and before that, in 2015.

The purpose of drug testing students participating in extracurricular activities, Superintendent JT Stroder said, was “not to use it as a hammer.”

Stroder expressed similar sentiments when the discussion came up two years ago, saying at that time of the estimated $10,000 price tag that came with drug testing that “if it’s preventative of drug use, then it is money well spent.”

School District Board Member Jim Webster said at a board workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 11, that “it’s a good time to revisit this,” in part because the school district has now addressed some of the concerns that doomed the idea previously.

In particular, Webster and board Member Peggy Nissen said that the new availability of professional services at the high school, such as counseling and mental health care, provides a path for remediation in the case that a student fails a drug test or is found to be using illicit drugs.

Nissen said that her previous opposition to the plan to test kids for drugs was rooted in the fact that the policy discussed preventative measures to help kids to not begin or continue using drugs, but at the time, she felt there was not enough infrastructure at the high school to implement those kinds of measures. Now, she said, it does.

The policy, as currently written and proposed, would limit drug testing to children participating in sports and other activities overseen by the Utah High School Activities Association and other school-sponsored activities identified by the school district board.

The board had the topic on its agenda for its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18, but tabled it until its next meeting.

Previous coverage