San Marcos district pleased with random drug testing
San Marcos Daily
February 23, 2006
By BRAD ROLLINS - Staff Reporter
About one and a half percent of San Marcos High School
students who participate in extracurricular activities
tested positive for drug use since a mandatory screening
policy took effect at the start of last school year.
Ten of about 700 screenings administered since August 2004
tested positive for drugs or alcohol, said Athletic Director
Steve Van Nest, who oversees the program. No students
have tested positive more than once, he said.
“Our whole purpose with this was to give students a
reason to say no when drugs are made available to them,” Van
Nest said. “Based on these numbers we've seen so far, I
think it's working. It's at least a good sign.”
The most common detected drugs are marijuana and
prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax,
More than 70 percent of the school's 1,900 students are
subject to testing through a policy that requires
participants in extra- and co-curricular activities to
submit to random screenings.
An Austin-based laboratory is contracted to test about 40
student a month through urine samples collected on-campus
taken during unannounced test days.
Students who test positive are required to take substance
abuse counseling and submit to automatic tests for the next
three testing days. A second offense results in a 30 day
suspension from activities and further counseling and
testing. A third offense means a one-year suspension from
School board members adopted the policy unanimously in May
2004 after drug-related offenses on campus more than tripled
the previous year. In a student survey used to justify the
program, 48 percent said they had used some type of illegal
The move drew opposition from some parents who argued that
random testing conditioned students to accept government
intrusion into their personal lives.
The program's first 15 months, however, shows it's
working, Superintendent Sylvester J. Perez said.
“The big thing is that we're being proactive. If students
do make inappropriate decisions, we have a system in place
to try to get them help and discipline,” Dr. Perez said.
He said educators are concerned about drug use among
students who do not take part in extracurricular activities,
but do not have plans to expand the program.