A new kind of test: Drug testing may be coming to SV


A new type of test may be coming to Spring Valley High School if administrators make good on thier conversation about implementing random drug testing. The new policy, which administrators say will take at least a year to develop and get approved, would allow Spring Valley staff to randomly select and drug test students weekly, as well as any time they leave campus for school activities, such as club meetings, field trips, and athletics.

Principal Tam Larnerd said he came up with the idea of drug testing students after observing Green Valley High School, the first and only school in Clark County School District (CCSD) to start drug testing its students. If implemented, Larnerd plans to mimic Green Valley High School, which has been drug testing since 2008.

“I would want to replicate them because they have the experience and the track record and they’ve been doing it for years, so it would make sense to replicate Green Valley,” Larnerd said.

Green Valley randomly selects students each week and tests them for substance abuse. Emphasis is placed on students leaving campus for extracurricular activities. The test requires a urine sample from the selected students, which is then checked for illegal substances. The test would include alcohol, prescription medications, marijuana, and other performance enhancing substances. Some students, however, feel that drug testing would be an invasion of privacy.

“I honestly think it’s a good idea and a bad idea because we are all high school teen students and there is a lot of us that will try drugs because of peer pressure,” said junior football player Gerardo Avalos.

While marijuana will become legal in Nevada this January, the new law plays no role in drug testing according to Larnerd.

“The legalization of marijuana would not affect this policy whatsoever,” Larnerd said. “You would need to be 21 in order to consume marijuana for recreational use regardless. It’s just like alcohol; students aren’t allowed to have alcohol in their system when they come to school, why would they have marijuana?” Larnerd stated.

Some people believe that it would have a negative impact on the school and community, but the heedlessness of the policy going on at Green Valley proves otherwise.

Larnerd believes that this would be creating a system that holds students accountable to a level most people would understand is for their own safety.

“Our number one priority is the safety of our students,” Larnerd said. He believes that drug testing students would decrease the risk of students  abusing drugs, a behavior that is detrimental to their health. The policy would affect most aspects of the school, especially athletics.

The underlying goal of this policy is not to get students in trouble, Larnerd said. If a student were to test positive, rather than being punished or expelled immediately, Larnerd wants the student to realize their mistake, and attend some type of counseling advised by the school.

Students, however, have stronger opinions about drug testing at school.

“It would get very annoying sometimes,” Sophomore and band member Alan Perez stated. “It’s a good idea, it would keep students from making the wrong decisions, but with band competitions and away games every single week, it would eventually become a nuisance.”

Marquan Bell, a senior, agreed that the policy would be problematic.

“I don’t think athletes will be willing to take tests because some of them like to push the limit and protect their privacy.”

The budget for drug testing would be covered by a $10 fee for students at the beginning of the year. Athletes would pay this in addition to the cost of an athletic packet.

“It seems like a lot of work and funding for something that wouldn’t be of much help,” Coach Nathan Pangelinian said. “I don’t believe any of our athletes are abusing any drugs. I think our staff has a positive impact on our athletes and that alone can prevent the use of drugs, rather than going through this long process,”

Overall, statistics show that schools that drug test their students have significantly less students getting in trouble for drug related issues.

Football Coach Marcus Teal already knows the great feeling and pride a team feels when they win a game. With the new policy being implemented, it would make that feeling even better.

“We would win with honor, spirit and integrity,” Coach Teal stated.

While Teal and Larnerd agreed that drugs are not a major problem at Spring Valley, the policy would be a positive one.

“I don’t believe we have a disproportionate average of students abusing drugs, but we still have the unfortunate subpopulation that make wrong decisions,” Principal Larnerd said. “It would be my goal to have all our students safe and drug free.”