KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - In just a few weeks, Region 8 kids head back to school. They'll be faced with tests that can change the direction of their lives, but there is one test that can also help save their lives.
The program was initially started out of community and coach concerns about drug abuse in high school students. Now after one year, 63 tests and three positive results the district is gearing up to double the number of students tested all for the good of the school and the students.
"Kids are bombarded by so much and their minds are young and they're so easily influenced and the more we can do for kids the better we are," said Kennett Superintendent Ed Siebenheuner.
Siebenheuener said students involved in any extracurricular activities or who drive to school have to sign a waiver with their parents that they will submit to random drug testing. That alone does act to deter drug use.
"Kids are just looking for a reason to not. Kids don't want to do those things. They know that's not good for them. They want a reason and we're giving them a reason to say no here at Kennett High School," said Siebenheuner.
If a student test doesn't come back "negative" they call it a "non-negative" test and send it to a lab out of state to have more intense testing done. If it comes back positive, the student and parents decide together to either be suspended from driving or their extracurricular activity for thirty days or they can get a smaller suspension and counseling.
"It's not about punishing kids. It's about rehabilitating kids and helping kids that may have a drug problem," said Siebenheuner.
They believe it is working. In fact they are looking to expand the program from five percent of the eligible population to ten percent every time they test. They do the random drug testing five times during the school year and by doubling the percentage tested it will cost $1,000 more a year.
"We think that it's relatively inexpensive to yield such a great product as a drug testing program," said Siebenheuner.
21% of the students in the testing "pool" were tested. The students are randomly selected by a computer program.
A public meeting for parents on the drug testing policy is going to be held on Monday at the Kennett High School at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in learning more about the policy is encouraged to attend.