CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Mingo County school board is taking new steps in the direction of drug abuse prevention. The county is implementing a new program this year, which will test students for drugs including, but not limited to, marijuana, steroids and methamphetamines.
Students at Mingo Central and Tug Valley high schools will be tested this year; the board plans to expand to testing students in seventh and eighth grade next year. Athletes, student drivers, members of extracurricular clubs and students enrolled in career and technical classes will be tested.
Student testing positive for drugs will not be reported to the authorities. The worst punishment for testing positive is suspension for one calendar year from the program the student is taking part in. In order to return to extracurricular activities, the student would be required to pass another drug test.
Student response to the policy seems to be overwhelmingly supportive.
Katelyn Dingess, a Mingo Central High School junior involved in Future Business Leaders of America, said, "The policy is totally fair. You shouldn't be doing drugs while playing a sport or anything of that sort."
"I feel it is the right thing to do for students and administration alike," said Todd Slone, a Mingo Central junior who plays football and baseball. "If a player needs to be drug tested, then why not the coach? It's not fair that it is just the students who are participating in the sport. The administration should be required to, too."
"They should drug test every student, not just students who are in clubs or CTE [Career and Technical Education]," said Beta Club member and CTE junior Hope Justice.
The reason why only extracurricular or CTE students are tested, instead of every student, is because that would violate students' Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
"The drug testing is a good idea because, for one, we need people who are trustworthy and good people out on the courts and even participating in the activities," said Ariel Ritchie, a Mingo Central sophomore who participates in the tennis team, Beta Club and Math Field Day. "I think that athletes and people who participate in after school activities, and even people who drive, are role models to the other students.
"I wouldn't even mind if they drug tested the whole school," Ritchie continued, "because I think that it would be of good use to know how many children actually participate in drugs in Mingo County. Then, the state might actually be able to do something about the drug problem. Honestly, I was happy to know that they were doing the testing because I know that the people representing our school and our state should not be doing illegal things."