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Norman Board of Education approves proactive policy to deter student drug use

NORMAN - The Norman Board of Education has approved a new, proactive policy to provide another layer of support for students who face peer pressure or struggle with substance abuse.

The policy is designed to provide another reason for students to say ‘no’ when pressured to use drugs and connect students who face addiction with resources to help them overcome challenges. The policy outlines a process that calls for a contracted physician to conduct random drug tests on high school students who participate in school-sponsored interscholastic competitions or represent Norman schools in extracurricular activities that require registration with the OSSAA. This approach was selected as it aligns with similar policies that have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Parents with high school children who do not participate in these activities may request that their child be included in the pool of students who will be randomly selected for testing.

The policy is a result of a recommendation by the district’s School Climate and Culture Task Force, which was created by the superintendent in 2016 to identify areas where the district could expand support services to address students’ growing needs.

District officials have diligently worked since the recommendation was made in 2016 to develop the policy and associated procedures. Several stakeholder groups have also been involved, including the 2017 Citizens Advisory Council, Parents Helping Parents, PTA representatives and local judicial officials to ensure the policy accurately reflects the goal of serving students. Norman is among many other metro-area districts to implement drug testing.

“We appreciate the recommendations set forth by our School Climate and Culture Task Force,” said Norman Public School District Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino. “Our primary goal is to prevent students from using illegal substances and provide resources to those who are struggling. The stakeholders we have worked with have been key to helping us develop a sound process for the board’s consideration.”

The random tests will be conducted using a cheek swab. All initial positive drug tests are kept confidential and reviewed by a certified medical professional before the school is contacted. If the medical professional determines that the student has the appropriate prescription, the school will not be notified. If a student tests positive and was not prescribed the medication, the medical professional will notify the school. School officials will arrange a conference with the student and their parents/guardians and require the student seek appropriate counseling or treatment, as well as submit to a follow-up drug test.

A second positive test will result in removal from activities for 14 days. A third positive result will result in removal from activities for the remainder of the school year. Students who refuse to take the test will not be permitted to participate in the described activities. Positive test results are confidential and will not be shared with law enforcement, nor will they result in any academic consequences. Results will be destroyed each year, and will not ‘follow’ the student post graduation or if they transfer out of district.

As in the past, students who are found to be in possession or under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at school will face disciplinary action outlined in previously approved policies.