IVC board hears presentation on drug testing policy

Adam Larck

The Illinois Valley Central Board of Education heard a presentation Nov. 8 from high school assistant principal Dustin Birkel about implementing a drug testing policy at the high school.

The policy, if started, would randomly test 25 athletes or students in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities per month, according to Birkel’s proposed plan.

“The district is not trying to create a ‘gotcha’ program,” Birkel said. “We are striving to give students another reason to say no and make good decisions.”

Birkel added during the presentation that students who have a parking pass could be tested as well, but he would rather test kids who publicly represent the school.

Birkel is proposing using hair samples to test whether students have used drugs in the past 90 days. A urine test, the other type of test available, can only test one to two weeks.

The plan also states that students would sign a consent form if in an activity that would cover all four years of school.

If a student tests positive, he or she would be given a chance to explain and opportunity to test again. The school can only remove the student from the activity.

“We hope to never get a positive test,” Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak said. “Our intent is to give students a reason to make good choices. When they find themselves in situations with peer pressure, this provides an easy excuse to avoid risky behaviors.”

The cost per year to the school would be about $10,000. The district would use the company Psychemedics for the testing.

Birkel said he formed the plan from talking to Morton, Galesburg and Peoria Notre Dame about policies they already use.

A community input meeting will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at the IVC High School library to let the community give their input on the plan.

A policy could be submitted to the board in March.

In other news, the board:

• Heard from Polyak that 17 mini-grants were awarded by the IVC Educational Foundation. The grants were awarded to teachers to help with various projects in the classrooms.

• Approved the library grant application. Polyak said that last year’s grant money has not been received, but wanted approval to get started on this year’s grant.

• Accepted the resignation of Lisa Miller, the high school girls volleyball head coach, and Cathy Johnson, South School special education aide. Both resignations were effective immediately.

• Held an open forum after the meeting to hear about possible district realignment. Fifteen community members listened to the same presentation given at the Oct. 25 and voiced various questions and comments.