By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Drug test policy at school revised and passed Monday

Second reading in May will pass new rules for students suspected of drug use


The board of education further amended its revised board policy proposal and the administrative rules on how the school district will test students suspected of drug abuse while at school.

The board passed a first reading of BP 5131.6(a) and its administrative rules on how to carry it out, AR 5131.6(a), after revising some language and amending it to include the first page of its old policy.

The version of the policy passed Monday night reinstitutes urinalysis testing of students suspected of drug use and completely drops the saliva-based testing recommended by the committee. It keeps the use of breathalyzer testing for students suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.

"The swab is gone," Rod Morrison, principal of Gilson Middle School and committee head, said to the board Monday night.

It also calls for in-house suspension of up to 10 days for students that test positive for drug use, drops the language in the former policy that caused students to lose credit for school work while suspended and has a school intervention component.

"Finding a policy that was clean and enforceable" took a great deal of work on the part of the district and the committee, Morrison said.

The new policy also drops language requiring extensive staff training on recognizing signs of possible drug abuse and instead calls for a more common sense approach to training.

A number of the changes – especially the mandated staff training – came after district officials met with the district's attorney, John Sedor. The type of training mandated in the old policy called for staff to be trained in motor-skill testing of a student's eyes and other in depth methods.

"The more specific you get, the more trouble you get into," board president Joe Prax said.

The new policy calls for the urinalysis testing be conducted on school premises by the juvenile probation officer in Valdez or by police.

"The emphasis is on using local resources quicker," Morrison said.

Coaches or other staff suspecting drug use by students while out of town will be directed to take the suspected drug user to a medical center or hospital for testing.

Teachers that suspect a student of using drugs or being under the influence of alcohol at school must contact the school's principal or the superintendent before a student can be tested.

Superintendent Jim Nygaard said in an email Tuesday morning that the new policy and rules – as passed by the school board Monday – will soon be posted to the district's website.

The board policy and administrative rules must pass a second reading by the board of education before it becomes official. Its next meeting is slated for May 11. has many resources online for parents and students.


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