After the community expressed mixed reviews to Solanco School District's mandatory random drug-testing policy at a public meeting last week, all the school board members but one Monday night voted to approve the policy.

Steve Risk was the only board member who cast a dissenting vote. With it being one of the last items on the agenda at the more than three-hour meeting, none of the board members discussed it and no one from the community spoke about it either.

The policy will target students who drive to school and middle and high school students who participate in extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

The policy for students who drive to school becomes effective next school year and the rest of the policy is in effect now.

Originally the policy called for a 30-day suspension from these activities for a first offense, while a second offense would result in a one-year suspension from these activities.

The policy was changed so that a second violation, which would be a full year suspension, can be lessened to 90 days if the student; provides a negative urine sample; reports to a certified addiction counselor and stays in the program for one year; and does 90 hours of community service.

The policy also includes mandatory random drug testing for homeschool and cyberschool students who participate in extracurricular activities.

In 2000, the School District implemented a voluntary drug testing program for all students after a high school student died from a heroin overdose. While voluntary drug testing and other drug abuse prevention programs have had some positive effect in combating that problem, unfortunately students continue to use drug and alcohol at significant levels. Specific evidence of continued student drug and alcohol use is as follows:

* Since January 2003, the Pennsylvania State Police have responded to 19 drug-related incidents at the School District's secondary schools.

* One hundred and four secondary students were referred to the Student Assistance Program for drug and alcohol issues between the 2000-01 and 2004-05 school years.

* One hundred and two secondary school students were disciplined for drug or alcohol infractions at school between the 2000-01 and 2004-05 school years.

To combat this continued drug problem, the district is expanding its voluntary testing program to require mandatory random drug testing for students participating in extracurricular/co-curricular activities or with student parking privileges.

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