District explores drug testing for 2018-19 extracurricular activities

Faye Smith

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After the Jan. 17 arrests of 11 Newton high school students and graduates, the possibility of implementing student-athlete drug testing arose. The school is in the initial stages of exploring how to conduct random drug testing and collecting information from several different school districts, including El Dorado and Topeka-Seaman. Athletic director Brian Becker believes that this will have a positive impact on battling drug usage in future years.

“Well the pros would definitely be that this is a deterrent to engage in illegal activity. It hopefully is also a pro to give students a legitimate out, if others want them to engage in things that would show up on a drug test,” Becker said. “They don’t want to but the peer pressure is there. Our desire to implement a program like this is not necessarily to catch kids red handed, but to be a deterrent.”

The school has formed a committee to explore other districts’ policies and protocol for drug testing all students involved with all extracurricular activities. Once the committee begins to meet, financial and policy planning will be polished before sent to the board of education in early summer.

Head football coach Chris Jaax believes the random drug testing will help influence others to abstain from any illegal activity and will benefit Newton athletics.

“I think it will create positive peer pressure. I think what it will do is the guys are going to recognize that anybody that is going to pressure their teammates into doing something like that or teammates to pressure each other into doing that, it’s going to have a negative consequence for the team. They know if anybody gets caught making that decision, they’re going to hurt the team. You can’t avoid it.” Jaax said.

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