The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Controversial drug policy indefinitely postponed Monday

The move could allow board of education will revisit policy in the future


Valdez Star photo

Superintendent Jim Nygaard shows attendees of an information meeting a sample of the saliva-based drug test he had proposed the district use to drug test students that participate in school activities.

The board of education indefinitely postponed voting on the proposal that would have drug tested students in school activities.

The policy, if passed during Monday night's meeting, would have gone into force next month.

Citing a lack of community buy-in, district superintendent Jim Nygaard recommended the board not pass the policy he himself proposed earlier this year.

"I'm not comfortable moving the policy forward until we're all on the same page," Nygaard said during his report to the board of education Monday night. "The community is not ready to move forward."

Instead, the board voted 6-1 to indefinitely postpone the matter. That leaves the door open to revisit the issue at a later time that does not fall under any type of deadline – if ever.

Board member Alan Sorum, the lone vote against postponing the vote on the policy, favored putting the matter to a vote in hopes of defeating it.

"I knew from past experience how this would be received," he said, acknowledging the large number of voices from the public that have spoken out against the policy.

Sorum also expressed concern that the district and the community needed a year of what he called "healing" before considering passage of any controversial measures.

Other board members stated their own reasons for voting to postponing the vote.

Two weeks ago, the policy was passed by the board with two dissenting votes by Sorum and Dr. Kathy Todd.

The policy needed a second reading and at least four votes yes votes to become official.

A number of board members said they still supported the concept and hoped to bring the matter back to the table sooner rather than later, probably with significant changes.

"I don't think it's ready for prime time," board president Joe Prax said before an amendment was proposed to postpone the matter.

During an informational meeting on the policy that was held at the Valdez High School library Thursday night, Nygaard told the room that was packed with concerned community members that he and the board would also be reviewing the current policy passed in 2005 that allows for drug testing of any middle or high school student suspected of drug use.

Nygaard said he found the policy, 5131.6, troubling at best and called it dangerous.

A review of the policy was on the board's consent agenda Monday night but was pulled and moved to discussion items at the end of Monday's regular meeting.


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