Debate over random drug testing in De Soto School District

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DE SOTO, MO (KTVI)-- There`s a debate in De Soto over random drug testing in the district.  The De Soto school district listened to concerns from parents and students Tuesday night.   The district handed out information during a public forum.  A draft shows the testing would be random and target students involved in extra-curricular activities.  The idea has made its way into draft form, and will likely be discussed during the next board meeting, February 20th.

"I feel like that`s an insult to us," said one student.  "They`re treating us like we`re criminals, and we`re not."

District officials say it`s all about keeping kids safe and guiding them to counseling services before it`s too late.  

Here is a link to the plan`s specifics:

Some parents and students are upset because the plan targets only students involved in extra-curricular activities.  District officials say they can`t legally perform random testing on all students. They say it is legal to randomly test students wishing to join extra-curricular programs.  One parent said she heard some students would simply drop out of sports to avoid the testing.

"It`s embarrassing to sit there and pee in a cup for somebody else," said one student.  "It is embarrassing."

The superintendent says the district came up with the draft after hearing success stories from other districts.  She said approximately 100 districts in the Missouri use some form of drug testing.  She hopes the testing will keep kids safe.

"This is not a way to punish or to hurt the children academically," said Superintendent Trish Burkeen.  She said the random drug testing is a way to help students resist peer pressure and find treatment programs.

Some students felt the district had more pressing needs.  During the public hearing, some students asked the school board to spend more money on textbooks, teachers and choir uniforms.

Burkeen estimates the annual cost of the drug testing program to be approximately $8,000.  She hopes the board will approve a plan soon. She said some parents wished teachers could also be tested.  The Superintendent said employees in certain jobs can be randomly tested but it would not be legal to randomly test teachers.

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