Lincoln County ready to launch student drug testing program

By Chris Lawrence in News
HAMLIN, W.Va. — Lincoln County Students will find a new drug testing policy in place when they return to school for the fall semester next month. The policy, which was approved in the spring by the Lincoln County School Board, targets students who drive to school or participate in athletics or other extra curricular activities.

“Everyone knows we have a major drug problem. It’s destroying families. Hardly anybody you talk to does not have somebody in their family affected and it destroys them,” said Assistant Lincoln County School Superintendent Bill Linville.

Additionally, Linville said parents could ask for their child to be added to the list of those subject to random drug screening if they don’t drive or don’t participate in extra curricular activities or sports.

It’s the first year for the drug testing policy at Lincoln County High School. Last year the county’s vocational and technical education center implemented a program called “Simulated Workplace’ in which the school is run just like a job site and random drug testing was implemented. Under the program 20 students would be tested a month.

“We want to let everybody know right up front, this is not a punitive thing,” Linville said. “The number one reason we’re doing this is to try to help children who may sample drugs so they won’t get hooked on them and get them some drug education.”

If a student tests positive the first offense results in a suspension of driving privileges or participation in athletics or extra curricular activities until the parents produce documentation the child has undergone a certified drug education program. The second offense will result in a 90 day suspension of driving privileges. A second offense for athletes will result in a 14 day suspension and a third offense for athletes will result in a calendar year prohibition on participation.

“It has nothing to do with our school code of conduct,” said Linville. “They’re not going to be suspended form school if they test positive unless they are under the influence of something at school or have possession. It’s not punitive, we’re just trying to help.”

Linville added another positive aspect of the drug testing program is to give teens another excuse to say “No” when around friends and other peer groups.

“Somebody might say, ‘Let’s drink this beer or smoke this joint,’ and they would be able to say, ‘No no, they may drug test on Tuesday,’” Linville explained. “It gives kids another out when they’re out with their peers to not use drugs or alcohol.”

Linville said the reaction from Lincoln County residents has been largely positive, with a few complaints. He said overall he expected it would be a worthwhile effort and a first step toward finding a solution to the ever growing drug problem in the county and in society as a whole.