Trustees and administrators in Early are the latest leaders in a growing number of school districts who are seriously considering a formal drug testing policy. School members considered the program at their meeting on Monday, and have given themselves a month, at least, to discuss the concept with parents and others in the community. That input will be vital to the success of whatever the next step for the school district might be.

By using proven student drug-testing models that avoid possible pitfalls like discrimination, the proposed program at Early will sidestep the landmines that could lie in wait. But deciding on a process for drug tests and the populations to be tested, and gaining the information is one thing. What schools do with the data is another. This was an important point that was discussed last year when Brownwood schools considered such a program, and it was again this week in Early.

Early school officials said the program is being considered as a preventative step - an effort to give students who might feel pressured into experimenting with drugs an “out.” Hopefully, all the tests that are given will come back negative, and any positive result will prove to be “false” for some logical reason. But if any student does test positive, a responsible reaction will include more than just punishment by disqualification from extracurricular activities. That response must also provide families with directions on professional counseling and possibly treatment to enhance the success of the school’s anti-drug program. Early officials understand this, and helping the student is the most important portion of any testing plan.

The use of illegal drugs has devastated the lives of countless Americans, and its costs are not only social but also economic. The effectiveness and the details of a school drug testing program are debatable, but the goal of everyone weighing in on the issue is the same. That’s to keep our young people free of drugs so they can function at their best and become productive, law-abiding citizens.

Brownwood Bulletin