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Seminole County Superintendent responds after Facebook post bemoans district randomly drug testing students

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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DONALSONVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - Random drug testing for high school students in Seminole County has some parents in a rage. However, district officials say they’re just trying to help.

A concerned parent took to social media to say that students in Donalsonville were being drug tested without parental consent.

Others chimed in, saying that random testing is against the parent’s constitutional rights.

Seminole County Superintendent Mark Earnest says he was unaware that there were any issues with the random drug testing because no one has come to him or the high school principal directly.

However, he admits that the new program will be implemented to all Seminole County high school students involved in extra curricular activities and those that drive a car to campus.

“We have very high numbers. Matter of fact, we were in the top five percent, of the top five percent that you do not want to be in the state with drug use,” Earnest explained.

In an effort to detour students from using drugs, either on or off campus, the Seminole County school board members agreed to implement random drug testing in the form of a urine sample.

The first round of tests took place in September and officials say the results were concerning.

“We had seven out of 40 drug testing samples that came back positive,” Earnest said.

The decision to test the students prompted this post on Facebook: A parent sharing that she had not consented for her students being tested and several others agreed that they also were not aware of the new policy.

Attention to all parents SEMINOLE COUNTY IS DRUG TESTING ALL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WITHOUT PARENT CONSENTS!

Posted by Valencia Motherofsix Hale on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

“Well people say ‘Why is the school interested in what my kid is doing outside of school,’” Earnest said. “Well most of the time, the things that are outside of school do affect what we’re doing inside the building.”

Superintendent Earnest says several informational meetings were held to discuss the new program and many parents did not attend. He says an opt-out option has also been offered with the understanding that students opting out will not be able to participate in those school activities.

One person agreeing with school officials says parents should be focusing more on students testing positive for using drugs instead of them being randomly tested.

Officials say the program is not meant to get students in trouble, but instead a way to provide help and recourses.

“Students are not turned over to law enforcement. I mean it’s not an ‘I gotcha’, it’s more, you know, we’ve got a problem and we need to do something about it,” explained Earnest.

Students that test positive once will be suspended from their extracurricular activities or from driving on campus for about a month. After that suspension, if a student tests positive for a second time, the suspension will apply for the remainder of the school year.

The district has also purchased a drug dog and are having the school resource officer trained to detect drugs.

For the surveys that came back putting Seminole County in the top five percent for drug use, the drug of choice was mainly marijuana.

Earnest says that out of the seven students that recently tested positive, the parents were grateful to find out about their students and says that is the main purpose behind the program.

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