Surrounding School Systems Adopt Random Drug Testing Policies for Student Athletes

One parent hopes Fauquier County will be next in line

Faith Schaefer, Managing Editor

    Culpeper, Page, and Orange Counties drug test student athletes. Now, one parent is hoping Fauquier County Public Schools will consider doing the same.

    “Fauquier County is the epicenter of the opioid epidemic within Virginia,” the parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. “Many teachers, parents, and students are keenly aware that marijuana usage in the high schools is widespread.”

    The policies in surrounding counties have been put in place to help student athletes, not punish them. 

    “Everybody needs to know and understand what the proposed policy is and what it is not,” the parent said. “This isn’t a punitive policy, but one that seeks to assist an individual in good choices while maintaining high standards for our school system.”

    Page County School Board members said they hoped the new policy would help student athletes say “no,” when approached by peers to experiment with an illegal substance.

   Charles Porterfield, varsity football coach, has mixed feelings regarding drug testing student athletes in Fauquier County. “I do not see drug problems as a huge issue here,” Porterfield said. “I know school systems are all different, so this might be the right answer for a specific school, but not for us.”

   Paul Frye, athletic director, feels that just testing athletes is unfair. “I think that there should just be drug testing for high school kids in general,” Frye said. “But singling out the athletes, as if they are the only problem, is not the right way to go.”

     Coaches are concerned that if drug testing is implemented, it will keep some student athletes from trying out. “We would definitely be affected,” Joan Degoosh, varsity lacrosse coach, said. “We would have a lot less athletes participating in sports.” 

     “I certainly think that there would be a drastic shift for any athletic systems,” Porterfield said.

     Others are concerned about how the county would pay for the testing.

     “Funding is always a concern, but the safety and health of all students is paramount importance to our educators and local elected officials,” the parent said. “I believe that we will be able to successfully fund such a program through grants and alternate sources of funding.”

     Junior Rebecca Nefferdor likes the idea of drug testing athletes. “I it is needed to make sure all athletes are on the same playing field,” Nefferdor said. “All athletes are expected to uphold the code of conduct anyways, so it’s only right if they are held responsible for their actions.”

     Baseball player Beau Donner said he’s okay with drug testing student athletes if there is a valid reason.  “Otherwise, it would be pointless,” Donner said.

     School board candidates weighed in on this topic during an Oct. 2 forum at Taylor Middle School. Several candidates said they were in favor of random drug testing as long as it was done to help students and not punish them. Other candidates were concerned that the testing may be a violation of student rights. 

     Currently there is no talk of random drug testing athletes in Fauquier County. However, as more surrounding counties adopt these measures, one parent hopes it won’t be long before Fauquier County does the same.