A district parent expressed her concerns with the random drug testing procedures during the public comment period of the McPherson USD 418 meeting Monday.
McPherson Middle School administrators have been meeting with students to inform them of the district’s substance abuse policy. If a student is interested in any Kansas State High School Activities Association activity during the school year, they must consent to participate in the random drug testing by Oct. 1.
Kate Sears said Monday she dislikes these meetings. She said the school has a list of those who have not yet consented to the random drug testing, and her daughter, who has been on the list, has felt pressured to consent, although she does not plan to be involved in any of the activities and has already opted out.
“I don’t know how many times you have to repeat it to the same child that knowingly says no,” Sears said. “I think that if you decline once, and you decline twice, you should be allowed to have that basic human right.
“It’s a level of intrusion on someone’s rights to decline. I’m not the only one in this community that is supportive of my children being able to decline.”
Sears has two boys at McPherson High School who have consented to participate in the testing, and said she would rather the middle school take the high school’s approach of informative announcements rather than group meetings.
“I just don’t think things are spoken clearly,” she said. “I think there’s more pressure than information.”
Both McPherson Middle School and McPherson High School have had two random testing days, which have tested both genders and the spectrum of activities relatively equally. Results come between one and three days.
MMS tested six students each time, with no positive results.
Brandon Simmelink, assistant principal, said 336 students have given consent forms, and he has met with other students to inform them of the policy.
“I wanted to give every kid every opportunity to fill out the consent form if they so choose,” he said.
MHS has tested 36 students, with no positive results. The tests were administered in late August and Sept. 17. One was a 10-panel test (meaning it tested 10 substances), and the other was a 5-panel test and an alcohol test.
Seventy-two percent of students — 498 of 690— have consented to testing.
“The kids have been great,” Shane Backhus, McPherson High School activities director, said. “I think it’s having the effect we initially wanted.”