Red Lodge school board approves stricter policy guidelines

Students subject to random drug testing

Demanding more responsibility from students, the Red Lodge school board approved the first read of new, more stringent policy guidelines for the upcoming school term at the July 17 meeting. Detailed in the handbook, additions to policies regarding cell-phone use, off-campus privileges, random drug testing and other student conditions were modified.

The handbook states that students are prohibited from using cell phones, required to follow specific academic criteria for off-campus benefits, and that all Red Lodge students, grades 6th-12th, involved with sports and extra-curricular activities are subject to random drug tests.

Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, board members frequently discussed such issues, as students continued to violate their privileges. Ultimately, they decided a change in policy was needed, and approved the first read of the policy modifications. “The board was in unanimous support with the changes and the student body was involved with originating the policies,” said Superintendant, Mark Brajcich.

One major change, the introduction of drug testing, will randomly select students involved in school activities to provide a saliva sample, and if tested positive, the handbook outlines the penalties for such offenses. Brajcich along with board members looked at a variety of policies from other schools and believes this one, modeled after Columbus School, is the most fitting to thwart the problem and encourage positive behavior.

“We’ve had more training rule violations in the past three years than previous years, and we felt we needed to tighten things up. Our hope is that students participating in activities are in the best shape and condition when representing the school,” Brajcich explained. After discussion with the RL student council, Brajcich said there is widespread support for the new policies and believed it will not have a major affect on student participation.

“Districts that have done it [drug-testing], have found that it also helps give students a reason to not partake,” Brajcich said. Such policies listed in the handbook to date are still subject to changes and are not officially policy yet, as the second reading will be held at the board meeting, Aug. 15. Guidelines for other policies regarding plagiarism, dress code, and community service requirements were also detailed and modified.