Apr 13, 2012 6:43 PM by Maddie Garrett
Students in Lafayette Parish public schools could be drug tested as soon as next year.
Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper said the drug tests would be voluntary, by parents' choice, free, and confidential. There would also be no punishment for students who test positive.
"It's non-punitive, if you get tested positive for drugs it's not about putting you out of school it's about finding you help," said Cooper.
That help could come from counselors or therapists at schools, or a parent could decide to handle the problem at home. Cooper said he believes voluntary testing in schools could be a preventative measure against drug use.
"This is a real life kind of consequence, if you get caught once then you're going to get tested about every two or three weeks for the rest of your school career. That's a good way to help kids make a decision about whether they're going to try drugs or not," explained Cooper.
The plan is sitting well with many parents, "I think it's a good idea," said Charlotte Burt.
"Every parent has their worries, we want the best for our children," added Gyothi Pyla.
Both Burt and Pyla said they like that it's geared toward helping students, not punishing them.
"They don't need to be punished they need to learn how to deal with it and learn how to cope with whatever they're going through that made them turn to a substance," said Burt.
"Once the problem is identified at least we know there is a problem then that helps a lot," Pyla said.
Parents who have fifth through 12th graders could opt for drug testing. A full policy must first be written and approved by the school board.
While no one KATC spoke to on Friday opposed drug testing students, several viewers on KATC's Facebook page voiced their concerns.
One viewer asked, "Who's exactly paying for this... I sure don't want to. If they want their kids drug tested they need to pay for it."
Another person wrote, "Please don't waste my tax money. If you suspect your kid is on drugs and care to do anything about it buy your own test. The schools are in bad enough shape financially as it is."
And finally, on person wrote, "Such a waste. How about when the kid test positive we charge them as an adult and their parents the same time."
It's unclear how the drug testing program will be funded at this time.