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Muskego High School may test athletes and club members for drugs, but not performance enhancers

June 20, 2014

Muskego — If approved, a proposed random drug testing program at Muskego High School would test 25 percent of students involved in clubs and sports, but it might not test for performance-enhancing drugs.

Those were issues raised about the program that got its second reading before the Muskego-Norway School Board last week.

Although school officials lean toward not testing for performance-enhancing athletic drugs, the school board must decide on whether it should be done. The cost is high. Testing for performance-enhancing drugs runs $280 per test compared with $40 to test for the other drugs that tend to be abused.

The school could limit its tests for performance-enhancing drugs to once a year, suggested Superintendent Kelly Thompson. Testing for other drugs would be done multiple times a year.

Muskego parents have been pushing for stronger anti-drug abuse efforts. If the board approves the proposed random drug testing program at its meeting on Monday, July 14, Muskego High School would be one of the few southeastern Wisconsin high schools that perform. Arrowhead and Pewaukee high schools also do random testing.

The tests as proposed would analyze urine samples for such substances as alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opiates including heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and phencyclidine.

Originally, the board was divided over whether to test a large portion of students to send a strong message that drugs are not tolerated or to test a small proportion to make sure the program was administered well.

But Thompson recommended 25 percent, saying, "It's a reasonable sample."

"If there is an issue out there, we'll be able to track that," she said, and the sample would be small enough to avoid errors.

Two students at the meeting on another matter supported the proposed random drug testing.

"I support this in every way," said Clayton Cavanaugh who will be a junior this fall.

And student Jacob Green said in light of drugs being involved in the fairly recent death of a Muskego student, "We definitely should push for more drug testing."

Some board members want all students randomly tested but that is illegal. Only students who take advantage of co-curricular activities and athletics could be legally eligible.

Students that participate in athletics, forensics, debate, musical, pep band, student council, AFS, DECCA or Future Business Leaders of America would be eligible for testing throughout their high school careers, even if they drop the activity.

That didn't sit right with School Board member Dean Strom.

"I don't understand how we can keep them eligible for testing even though they are not participating in co-curriculars," he said.

But Thompson said, "That's where the revocation comes in."

Students who are in clubs or athletics and don't think they want to be in them any more can officially revoke their status as participating in co-curriculars, she said.

If they change their minds later on, they will be treated as if they had a positive drug test, and the school's penalty for that would kick in, she said. That penalty is missing a third of the season or a third of the year if it is a year-round activity. That is for the first offense. The penalty is stiffer from then on.

An option is not to opt out, and if their name comes up for testing, they can decide then if they want to take the test. If they don't and later want to be in sports or clubs, they would have to serve the penalty as if they had a positive test, Thompson said.

The convoluted policy is proposed because students could evade testing by opting out after each season, board member Eric Schroeder said. The loophole the policy is meant to close would allow a student in freshman football for example opting out after the season and then coming back for sophomore football and opting out again at the end of the season, he said.

The only consequences students would suffer from having a positive drug test would be the school's penalties. Police would not be involved. Also, an outside health agency would handle the program, which would be self-supporting by adding $10 to the normal fee for sports and other co-curricular activities.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: possible Muskego-Norway School Board approval of random drug testing for Muskego High School students in sports and other co-curricular activities

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, July 14

WHERE: Educational Services Center, W87 S18763 Woods Road

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