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— Some Pea Ridge students will be screened for drug use.

After reviewing a proposed drug policy for several months and hearing presentations from two different companies, Pea Ridge School Board members approved a policy at their regular meeting Monday.

The school district will contract with Arkansas Occupational Health Associates to have the students randomly drug tested.

The new program implemented is very similar to that at Fayetteville High School. On a quarterly basis, 15-20 students will be chosen at random by an outside entity. Luke Moffitt from Arkansas Occupational Health Associates attended the meeting to clarify details regarding the policy.

Any drugs taken with a prescription will be sealed in an envelope and sent to a medical review officer. This eliminates any problems that may arise with faculty seeing what medications students might be on, Moffitt said.

Students will not be tested for specific drugs, but rather for one or more positives.

"That way, if something new shows up on the street, changes (in the policy) won't have to be made to test for it," Moffitt said.

There will also be a split collection - the specimen taken from the student will be split in two, half sent to the lab and half put in a freezer, in case there is a need to confirm a positive result.

"If it's positive, (Arkansas Department of Occupational Health) will notify the superintendent's office. Then it's up to you guys to discuss it with the parents and students," Moffitt said.

There is some flexibility in the testing, as the school district is not tied to any Arkansas Drug Free Workplace regulations.

"We're good with it. We've looked at it inside and out," Rick Webb, board member, said.

"We will need to meet with parents and students to amend the handbooks," superintendent Mike Van Dyke said, adding also that changes will be made to worker's compensation and DOT guidelines.

The test will cost $52 per collection, and the testing company will ensure the restroom facilities used to test on campus have no potential to be tampered with.

News, Pages 1 on 08/12/2009

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