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Raleigh County BOE debates drug testing policy

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By Jessica Farrish 
Register-Herald Reporter

A proposed drug testing policy for the students of the simulated work place at Academy of Careers and Technologies is on a 30-day comment period after three Raleigh County Board of Education members voted to pass it at the regular BOE meeting Tuesday.

The policy was amended at the request of BOE member Cindy Jafary, who voiced concerns about the Constitutional legality of the proposed policy.

Jafary was the only member who didn’t vote in favor of placing the amended policy on a 30-day comment period.

At Jafary’s direction, the policy was amended to allow for split specimen testing — the same specimen of urine being split into two separate testing units — after Jafary pointed out that split specimen testing is “standard” and that the initial policy did not make allowances for it.

Jafary also requested that the policy allow a student who failed a drug test to appeal to BOE members prior to being removed from the simulated work environment program.

The first draft allowed the superintendent to make the final decision on whether the student would be barred from participating in the program.

“In the state of West Virginia, students have a Constitutional right to education,” remarked Jafary. “I don’t think it’s sufficient to have a superintendent’s appeal if we’re going to remove that child from the program.”

Testing for steroid use was also struck from the policy, since steroid use doesn’t impair work performance and is not included in typical workplace drug testing, Jafary reported.

ACT Principal Charles Pack explained that the simulated work place is a West Virginia Department of Education initiative that turns the classroom into a simulated business environment.

Students in six programs — culinary arts, dental assisting, computer repair, careers and education, diesel technology and automotive technology — would agree to submit to drug testing as part of their participating in any of the six programs.

“The industry within the state is really saying, ‘We need some help showing potential employees that drug testing is part of the new world we live in,” Pack said.

Pack and ACT computer repair and networking teacher Anne Meadows supported the proposed policy.

Meadows said her 17 students have all said they would willingly submit to the testing.

BOE President Rick Snuffer, Vice-President Larry Ford and BOE member Richard Jarrell voted in favor of the measure, and BOE member Sally Susman was absent.

New Raleigh County Schools Superintendent Darrin Butcher was present.

Butcher was chosen by BOE members to replace outgoing Raleigh Superintendent Jim Brown.