The topic of a random drug testing program has been frequently discussed by the Lake Travis ISD Board of Trustees.
The program is mandatory for students in grades 7-12 that participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities, as well as students in grades 9-12 that obtained a parking permit from the district.
The district implements the program in six administrations, testing 7% of the population or about 170 students at the high school level at a time.
A discussion on vaping arose during the Jan. 15 board meeting, in which a number of board members expressed a desire to add nicotine to the list of tested substances, among various other changes.
Superintendent Brad Lancaster confirmed during that meeting while the district can test for nicotine, there is no federally certified test for vaping. The test implemented by their drug testing company Southwest Consortium would not be able to distinguish whether the nicotine was ingested through a vape pen, a cigarette or another tobacco product.
Based on previous conversations, LTISD personnel including Holly Marris-Kuentz, deputy superintendent, Liz Deterra, assistant superintendent and Amber King, general counsel established a report of suggested changes.
Adding nicotine to the list of tested substances was among the suggestions, as well as the option to test a student that was not present during the initial testing day.
Included in the report is the option to provide staff with the necessary training to implement the drug tests themselves in the event that an additional testing day is required. If a student cannot complete the test or is absent for his or her testing period then the district will have the ability to test that student within the next five days. Consequently, this potential change would alter the required 7% testing ratio.
The report also outlined separate consequences for nicotine and illegal drugs, with the consequences for nicotine initially resulting in less harsh consequences.
If these changes are adopted than a student who tests positive for nicotine on first offense will be allocated educational resources and their guardian will receive notification.
Among the consequences includes community service hours, a suspension from extracurricular activities, counseling and subsequent tests.
Board members thanked the committee for their work following the presentation of the proposed changes.
“This really nicely reflects everything we talked about in that January meeting,” Trustee Bob Dorsett Jr. said.
According to district information any changes would not take effect until the start of the 2020-21 school year and action will be requested on these potential changes during the scheduled April 15 board meeting.