In 2008,The School District of Manatee County was awarded a federal grant to conduct a mandatory random drug-testing program for all students who participate in a Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA)-sanctioned sport, to include cheerleading. Although this grant ended following the 2010-2011 school year, the principals and athletic directors at all 6 of our public high schools decided to continue the program due to the success demonstrated during the 3 year funding period. This page has been put together for both the student-athlete and their parents to explain the details of the program and assist in answering questions related to it. Below you will find a link to the complete information packet which also includes a consent form which must be signed and returned to your school (coach or athletic director) in order for a student-athlete to be eligible for participation in any interscholastic sport. We realize that for many students and parents this effort will be seen as a welcome proactive measure by our schools to ensure the safety and welfare against the use of drugs with the potential for abuse. However, we also understand that there will be questions and concerns which may not be fully addressed or satisfied by the contents of this page or the provided links. We respectfully ask that all questions regarding this program be directed to your school's athletic director, or you may contact Skip Wilhoit at 751-6550 ext. 2270.
Complete Information Packet for Student-Athletes and Parents
FAQs and Consent Form
Why Randomly Test for Recreational Drugs?
It is our expectation that the random testing program will arm our students with a legitimate and effective tool to resist peer pressure and identify those with a serious substance use issue. The School District of Manatee County recognizes and respects the individual rights of our students. However, we must balance this freedom with the responsibility we have to assist our families and communities in providing the most effective deterrents for the use of drugs by our children.
It has been upheld by The Supreme Court of the United States that students participating in extra-curricular activities may be subject to a random drug-testing program, but students who do not participate in these activities cannot be tested randomly by our schools. We decided to limit this program to athletes and cheerleaders due to the expected reduction of privacy associated with physicals and communal showering as well as the fact that current testing for steroid and recreational drug use already exists on the collegiate and pro levels. The district fully recognizes that participation in organized activities is one of the strongest factors in deterring student drug use, but it is by no means a guarantee of abstinence. Because of the social clout carried by many of our athletes, we also hope to exact a school-wide reduction in reported usage as well as incidents involving substance use.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE TESTING PROGRAM
During the grant funding period, signed consent forms triggered students to be assigned a confidential number and placed on a roster along with all other eligible athletes from their school. Now this same process will be initiated by a student-athlete's name appearing on the final team roster submitted to the FHSAA. Once this is done, a computer software program will choose the students to be tested based on that number rather than by name to ensure the random process will not be compromised. Each high school's clinic nurse is in charge of running that program and conducting the testing.
Once the student reports to the nurses’ office, they will be properly identified, led through the necessary paperwork and will follow the established protocol for sample collection.
We use a customized five-panel screen that tests for amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), and marijuana. In addition, we screen students for alcohol using a grant purchased breathalyzer unit.
Some questions and points from a leading authority
Discusses the importance of factors involved in random testing
A small study from the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools
Links to research behind Mandatory Random Student Drug Testing
Testimony from a school principal in New Jersey
Short, but a must read
A wealth of information that backs the design tenets of Manatee County's program.
Manatee County Safe Schools
PO Box 9069
Bradenton, Florida 34206
Phone (941) 708-8770 ext.2191