Premont ISD already one of Texas' schools drug testing

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Jim Wells County Correspondent

Students who participate in extra-curricular activities at Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco High School will face mandatory drug testing at the beginning of the school year, students and parents learned during a mandatory meeting recently in the school's cafeteria.

The testing will be for all students, from grade seven to 12, who wish to participate in activities such as band, athletics, National Honor Society and others.

Along with mandatory testing at the beginning of the year for those students, there will be five random drug testing periods throughout the school year, where a random group of 30 or more students will be tested at one time.

Dr. Grace Everett, the new superintendent for BB-PB Independent School District, will also have the option of having a student suspected of using drugs selected for testing.

Pinnacle Medical Management Corporation of Corpus Christi will conduct all drug testing.

The testing will look for the presence of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates.

In the future, Everett said other substances would be tested for as well.

There will be several opportunities to attend the introductory meeting this summer, which will be mandatory for students wanting to participate in school activities.

Parents and students will have to sign a consent form at the meeting, if they wish to participate in extra-curricular activities.

For a first-time offense, students will be suspended from extra-curricular activities for 45 consecutive calendar days.

To return to participation, a student will have to be retested at the end of the period, and come back with a negative test result.

A second offense will lead to a 90-day activity suspension, and a third offense will mean a student is suspended from extra-curricular activities for the remainder of their time with the school district.

The punishments are cumulative throughout their time in the district, which means a students who has one offense during his seventh-grade year, does not start over with a clean slate his eighth-grade year, for example.

Students who come up with three positive tests early on in their education, such as in seventh or eighth grade, will not be able to participate in any school related extra-curricular activity through their high school career.

The punishment is very serious, officials said, because the school district sees drug use as a problem that should be taken very seriously.

Parent Belinda Munoz believes the testing will hold students accountable for their actions and should improve the atmosphere at the high school.

"We expect the kids to be better, stay clean, and know that if they want to play and be good at school, they have to play by the rules," Munoz said.

"We don't want anything coming in to our schools, and we will try to prevent it as much as we can. If somebody is bringing it in, we want them out of here."

For student Marissa Gonzalez, the experience of peer pressure is very real.

She's been to parties in the past where drug use was present, but said the pressure to use never really affected her judgment. She never felt the temptation.

"I don't know, I guess I'm smarter than that. I'm not that stupid," Marissa said.