Raytown parents question proposed random drug testing of high school athletes

RAYTOWN, Missouri - A plan to randomly test students for drugs concerns parents in the Raytown public school district. Some said the plan would violate civil rights.

At Raytown High School, every athlete signs a pledge. They promise to obey all handbook rules, including those banning substance abuse.

"No district is immune from students and their drug use," said Dr. Allan Markley, Superintendent of Raytown Public Schools.

According to state officials, nearly 24 percent of Raytown sophomores smoke marijuana. The state average is 18 percent. So, nine months ago, district officials intervened. The ordered a Citizen Advisory Council to examine the impact of random student drug testing. So far, the group believes randomly testing all high school extra-curricular participants, even those in band and orchestra, would be fair and effective. They said athletes tend to be seen as role models by other students. As such, if officials slow athletes' drug use, other students may follow.

"We thought after reviewing every aspect, it was time to take it (our plan) out to our school community and our patrons," Dr. Markley said.

Among more than two dozen parents gathered to hear an explanation in Raytown High School's auditorium Monday night, several voiced opposition.

"I am totally, 100% against it," said Jeff Godfirnon, a parent.

Other parents, wondering how the proposal would affect their children, peppered Dr. Markley with questions.

"If (my sons) are caught with drugs, what is (the punishment)," asked Alan Tucker, a parent with three sons in high school. "Is that suspension? How is it going to be enforced?"

Penalties would only limit play in games or performances, officials said. However, some parents believe the plan still violates civil rights.

"The randomness, the drug testing in general, the fact that the school is taking it upon themselves to implement this when it's not even really a school issue bothers me," Godfirnon said.

District officials studying the issue plan to take feedback from parents very seriously. Staff may not even recommend board members approve random drug testing.

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