Random drug testing at Mingus Union?
Athletic director discusses three-point plan with school board
COTTONWOOD – Yancey Devore would like to see Mingus Union implement randomized student drug testing by January.
That’s what the district’s athletic director told the governing board Monday as he outlined three reasons for testing students involved in Arizona Interscholastic Association-sanctioned activities.
“I want our athletes making better decisions,” Devore told the board. “It’s clearly about intervention. It’s not a ‘gotcha.’ It’s ‘let’s try to correct this. It’s better to be proactive than reactive.”
Devore said that early detection, intervention and safety are the three reasons to implement a drug testing program.
“There are problems with drug addiction,” Devore said. “If there’s anything we can do to help youth in our community, it’s early detection and intervention. We want to try to protect our kids, our school and the other kids on campus.”
According to Devore, 14% of the nation’s schools have implemented some kind of drug testing program.
Devore clarified that AIA-sanctioned activities include all sports, cheer, spirit line and theater.
According to Devore’s working plan, a student who tests positive – and whose test result has been confirmed – would be suspended from the activity for two weeks and would be required to complete an educational intervention course.
Students who test positive a second time would be suspended from all AIA-sanctioned activities for one year.
How much would drug testing cost?
Devore has looked into Cottonwood’s Treatment Assessment Screening Center – TASC – for its drug testing, but he said Tuesday that he is still looking around to see which company best meets the district’s needs.
TASC offers five-panel, seven-panel and nine-panel testing options, Devore told the school board. Of the three, Devore said that the nine-panel test would cost $32 and was a better option than the five-panel or seven-panel tests.
“The nine-panel would pretty much include everything,” Devore said. “It also tests for synthetic drugs, ecstasy, opioids and fentanyl.”
Neither Devore nor the board discussed performance enhancing drugs.
With three activity seasons, fall, winter and spring, Devore said it would cost $960 to test 30 students in a given season. Testing throughout the year would cost $2,880, he told the board.
If the school tested all students involved in AIA-sanctioned activities, the cost “would go way up, upwards of $10,000 or more,” he said.
“I’d like to do more [than 30 students],” Devore said. “But I’d like to keep it in the $3,000 range.”
The board did not discuss a mechanism to pay for the drug testing, though Devore said the money either could come from the athletic fund or “more than likely from district funds.”
Board Member Anthony Lozano asked if randomized student drug testing could open a door for the district to allow teachers to be tested.
“That would not become an issue,” Superintendent Mike Westcott said.
Not an issue, Board President Lori Drake said, because of “clear legal boundaries.”
Why test? “Hopefully they never do it again,” Devore said. “We would hope that when it comes to Friday, if nothing else they think of the potential consequences of getting caught. We hope their desire to compete would keep them from doing something to get caught.”
Devore also told the board that he would like to hold question and answer sessions with the community sometime in November.
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42