Pictured: Andi Pulido and her mother Laura Pulido, along with Linda Pulido and her son Ernie Guerra, attended the mandatory meeting Wednesday night. Students and parents who missed the meeting will still be able to meet with coaches or organization sponsors one on one, which will count as attending the meeting. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Learn about drug testing procedures, consequences

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Parent Raul Pacheco said he's glad to see the Alice school district implementing a drug-testing program for students.

"I think it's a wonderful thing they're doing now, to try and keep drugs away from the school," he said Wednesday night.

He said he doesn't believe drug use is a big problem at Alice High School, and with the new testing policy in place, the problem shouldn't get out of hand.

Pacheco was just one of about 1,500 parents and students who attended the mandatory drug policy meeting Wednesday night at the Alice High School Theatre for the Performing Arts.

It was standing room only, with crowds gathered at all three entrances.

Early in the meeting, Fire Marshal Patrick Thomas notified school administrators the parents and students would have to be moved away from blocking the exits, and eventually, the meeting was divided, with standing participants moving to the AHS activity center to finish out the meeting.

Linda Pulido and her son, Ernie, along with Laura Pulido and her daughter, Andi, made sure to get front row seats to the meeting.

Linda Pulido said random drug testing will make students realize they have to be aware of drugs.

"It matters. Students have to show responsibility, especially at school. I think drug testing will have a positive effect," she said.

She said the number of students who test positive will probably be low, because students feel it's important to participate in their favorite school activities.

Laura Pulido also worries about her daughter and the availability of drugs in the community.

"We have a very close relationship, and I remind her often to do the right thing and be responsible," Pulido said.

Andi is a member of the band, and said the testing policy really won't effect students in band, where she said drug use is uncommon.

"There's not much happening there. I don't think we'll lose any band students due to testing," Andi said.

Under the new drug testing policy, A&D Tests, Inc. will manage the random student selections and the collection process, while Quest Diagnostics handles the actual testing procedure. The price per random test to the district will be $18. A&D will conduct five panel tests, meaning they will search for five substances in a student's urine sample, including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamine/methamphetamine and phencyclidine (PCP).

According to the district's new policy, any student in grades nine to 12 who participates in a school-sponsored, extracurricular activity and all students who drive a car to school, will be put into the pool of possible random testing, which will take place six times a year.

A&D will use a random computer selection method to come up with the names of students to be tested. No less than five percent and no more than 30 percent of students in the program will be randomly selected throughout the year.

Students who refuse to test when selected will be considered to have a positive test result.

During testing, students will be escorted by district personnel to the testing site and will remain under employee supervision during the test. A student, from behind a closed restroom stall, will produce the sample. There will be blue water in the toilet and the sinks will be secured, to prevent any tampering with the sample.

The urine, which will collected in a cup, will then be divided into two small vials and sealed.

The students will confirm their ID number and initial the sample, to preserve the chain of testing.

Judy Williamson, president of A&D, said if the urine tests positive for a substance, the parent will be notified by a medical review officer.

If the parent has a prescription that would explain a positive test, the student will have one week to call in the prescription information to a company-designated doctor. A positive test is always checked a second time before the results are released to the parent or school. The second sample vial is held in case the parent feels the test result is incorrect.

The sample will be sent to a separate testing company at the parent's expense.

"The school is not doing this to catch anybody. Drug testing is a deterrent for students, a tool available to the school to use to help students," Williamson said.

"If they get caught up in drugs, then the school can get them the help they need before adulthood and get them out of the cycle of drug abuse."

Williamson said testing is just a part of the triangle of drug testing policy. The goals are detection, education and rehabilitation for those students who test positive.

We're not out to catch everybody, we're out to help them," Williamson said.