Beaufort County School District cuts funding for random drug testing program

Beaufort County School District cuts funding for random drug testing program

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - An increasing number of school districts across the country have started randomly drug testing students.

In the Lowcountry, the Beaufort County School District has been doing so for almost five years. As of this year, they will dial back on how many students could be tested. The district said it has nothing to do with the number being high or low, and everything to do with budget cuts.

In this year’s budget, the Beaufort County School District chose to cut funds for random drug testing by $18,000 - slicing the program’s budget in half. The cuts mean less students who participate in voluntary activities like sports and after-school clubs will get drug tested in the upcoming school year.

Instead of testing 50 percent of applicable students from the sample at each test, they will now only test 10 percent.

"They can be on the list for athletics, for having any kind of extracurricular, or a parking permit of that nature.”

Board member William Smith worries about how much the district can do after a positive test.

“Some of the feedback I’ve gotten from the parents has not been the most positive," Smith said.

WTOC reported back in 2015 that the random drug testing started after more than 100 cases of drug-related violations in the district. A year later, the district said only three percent of students tested positive.

Board members say their decision was not impacted by data of how students were testing. In fact, there was not any data readily available by the school district at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Smith is happy with the cuts because he doesn’t agree with the testing.

“I initiated the conversation, because personally, I feel if you are not drug testing staff, then why drug test the students, and for a school district, to some degree, that can get messy.”

Types of drugs the district is testing for include marijuana, THC, cocaine, alcohol, meth, and opioids.

The new approach, as well as updates to the policy, were recommended to go before the board at the next meeting.

WTOC has reached out to school district officials to get more data on where the district stands with students who test positive.

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