Limestone County Schools releases student drug testing results

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - A more inclusive drug testing policy launched during the spring semester seems promising for Limestone County.

Seven students tested positive for illegal drugs; most were using marijuana. Others tested positive for prescription pill use.

"We tested 35% of the student body that was eligible, about 2200 students in all were tested," explained Limestone County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk.

Testing figures (photo: Limestone County Schools)

Testing figures (photo: Limestone County Schools)

The wider-spread testing is a big change for the system. Before January, the district would only test high school athletes, but now features a much larger, randomly selected testing pool, including 7th and 8th graders.

District leaders called the previous system ineffective, and changed the policy in early 2016.

From the day a student is found positive, they are suspended from all extracurricular activities, including driving on campus, sports, etc. The suspension lasts 365 days, at which point the student, if clean, can reenter extracurriculars.

"We wanted it to be a deterrent," said Rusty Bates, the district's safety, athletics, and transportation director. "We wanted give kids reason to say no, and let us be the reason why. I think it's done that"

Thirty-six students were flagged but legal prescriptions cleared all but seven students.

"I prefer to think about the 2200 that are doing it right," said Dr. Sisk. "That's what's most important."

With these numbers as a precedent, district leaders plan to use the same policy but spread the testing over the entire school year.