ACS makes changes to substance abuse policy

The Alabaster City School System will operate under an updated substance abuse policy for the upcoming school year. (File)

The Alabaster City School System will operate under an updated substance abuse policy for the upcoming school year. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster students who park on campus or who participate in school-sanctioned competitive activities will see changes in the city school system’s substance abuse policy for the coming year, as the Board of Education voted on the changes during a July 27 meeting.

The Alabaster Board of Education voted unanimously during the special-called meeting to adopt the new substance abuse policy, which will affect a significant number of Thompson High School and Thompson Middle School students.

ACS Student Services Coordinator Dorann Tanner said school system has been operating under a substance abuse policy modeled after the Shelby County Board of Education’s policy since ACS began in July 2013.

“Coach Freeman and I have been working on it a lot this summer. We’re looking at making it our own,” Tanner said of the updated policy.

The policy will affect all THS students who park on campus and all THS students who take part in extracurricular or competitive activities, such as sports teams, academic competition teams and the band. The policy also affects all TMS seventh- and eighth-graders who participate in extracurricular activities.

All affected students are subject to random drug tests at school, and can face a range of penalties if they test positive for illicit substances. The school system makes an attempt to test all affected students at least once each school year, Tanner said.

Under the old ACS substance abuse policy, students who tested positive were suspended from their respective activities for seven weeks. Those who tested positive a second time were no longer able to take part in school extracurricular activities.

Through the new policy, students are suspended from their activities for 30 days and must complete a substance abuse treatment policy. Students who test positive a second time are suspended from activities for a year, “but can work their way back with a substance abuse treatment program,” Tanner said.

Students who test positive a third time are no longer able to participate in extracurricular activities at TMS or THS. Students’ drug test results are cumulative from seventh grade through senior year, Tanner said.

“I think this is a more helpful, preventative policy than what we had,” Tanner said. “I would like it to serve as a preventative measure. If they test positive, I want it to get them back to where they need to be before they have a substance abuse problem.”