About 80 to 90 percent of Lake Travis ISD middle and high school students will be required to enroll in a mandatory drug testing program.
The LTISD board of trustees unanimously passed a motion at Wednesday’s meeting that will require many students to enroll in the program, called LeaderForLife, which has been voluntary until now.
Students in grades 7-12 participating in school-sponsored, competitive, extracurricular activities must enroll. Students in grades 9-12 who obtain a parking pass must also enroll.
If students do not fit into one of the categories above, program participation is voluntary. However, about 80 to 90 percent of students are covered by the activities listed, according to Deputy Superintendent Mary Patin.
She added the ultimate goal would be 100 percent enrollment and that the LeaderForLife board, which is made up of district staff, parents and community members, will continue to brainstorm how to make that happen.
The testing method to be used is changing from saliva to urine in order to get more accurate results.
The board agreed if a student tests positive for the first time, a parent or guardian and a school counselor will be notified, but no punitive action will be taken. Consequences such as losing a parking pass, being removed from an extracurricular activity and community service requirements are possible if a student tests positive a second or third time.
Superintendent Brad Lancaster clarified that the LeaderForLife program and resulting consequences is completely separate from if a student gets caught with drugs in his or her possession on campus, for example.
“What we’re trying to do with this program is give kids an ‘out’ where they can respond [about drugs], ‘I don’t do that,’’” Kathleen Hassenfratz, the district’s health and social programs coordinator, said in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper before the meeting.
About two weeks ago, Hassenfratz assembled a focus group of high schoolers to talk about a cell phone application that was created to go along with the drug testing program. The app offers students rewards for being involved in the program.
“We asked what the school could offer them,” she said. “Apart from having food from area businesses brought in, they talked about closer parking spaces and discounts on tickets to prom and homecoming. So it [how to further incentivize the program]is all in the works, but with the kids’ input.”
There has not been a positive result obtained from the LeaderForLife program testing so far, but the district is aware that might change now that they are using urine as a testing method and because there will be many more students involved, Hassenfratz said.
“We are ready to offer contracted counseling services,” she said. “We will have those councilors in place.”
See more information on LeaderForLife’s background and budget in previous Community Impact Newspaper coverage here.