Bret Harte drug policy discussed

July 22, 2003 12:00 am

By SUNNY LOCKWOOD

Proposed drug testing of student athletes brought parents, teachers and coaches to last night's meeting of the Bret Harte Union High School District board.

Thirteen people discussed the proposal. Several spoke in favor of the policy, which, if adopted, will mark a first for Bret Harte. No one spoke against the policy.

District trustees will consider adopting the policy at the Aug. 4 meeting. If approved, the policy would affect about a third of the students — all cheerleaders and athletes.

Bret Harte High's athletic director, Rich Cathcart, said the policy was proposed after students approached campus officials "saying there's a problem."

"The coaches were concerned that our athletes weren't performing as well as they should and that maybe drug use was causing that," he said.

Last night, District Superintendent Joseph Wilimek emphasized that the policy is designed to be helpful, not punitive.

He said the policy recommends testing all athletes at the beginning of each season, with random tests weekly during the fall, winter and spring seasons.

He explained that the initial urine test would be done at school and if a litmus paper test was positive, the sample would be sent to an outside lab. That lab would test for seven drugs: amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates and alcohol.

The proposed policy describes procedures that would take place if a student tests positive for one of the drugs. Procedures include a conference with parents, district superintendent, the student and the principal.

Before participating in a sport again, such a student would have to enroll in a drug education program. The student would also have to submit to a urinalysis every 30 days. These tests would continue for as long as necessary, as determined by an intervention program.

After completing the program, the student athlete must have a doctor's clearance stating that he or she is drug-free and physically fit to again participate in athletics.