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Carthage Central explores drug testing for athletes

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WEST CARTHAGE — Marijuana is a problem on some Carthage High School sports teams, according to the parent of one athlete.

The Carthage Central School District Board of Education discussed at Monday’s meeting whether athletes and others who take part in extracurricular activities should take random drug tests to help quash possible drug use.

“The only thing that worries me is that parents would need to consent,” Superintendent Peter J. Turner said. Drug tests cannot be mandated for students, he said.

He said the board also would need to define a policy of what would happen if a student tested positive for drugs and how much money would be allotted in the budget for such tests.

The parent, who would not give her name when asked by a reporter, told the board in open session that “there are teams out there who are using drugs. If we turn our heads the other way, someone is going to get hurt.”

Board member Brian K. Serota said the parent should not point fingers at others.

“I’m going to play devil’s advocate,” he said. “You’re going to have a parent who says, ‘That’s going to infringe on my rights.’”

He and board member Anne M. Rohr said a policy would have to affect all students who take part in extracurricular activities, not just athletes.

Board member Mary Louise Hunt said testing students would be expensive with an already tight budget and would burden school staff who probably would be administering the tests.

“I’m still at the point that parents can drug check their children, too,” she said. “Maybe they don’t know that.”

She also was worried that a drug-testing policy would make it appear that the high school has an exceptional drug problem compared with other districts.

Before a policy is created, board President Barbara A. Lofink said she wants to explore all aspects of it.

“I’d like to see an estimate of what it’s going to cost and how other schools run it,” she said.

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