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Ripon High teens not wild about random drug tests for school athletes

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POSTED December 13, 2012 12:37 a.m.

RIPON – Drug test or not to drug test.

Ripon High Leadership students discussed just that during a recent review on routine policy updates from the California School Board Association.

CSBA, as an optional policy, recommended that school districts can chose to have a drug testing program in place for student athletes and activities.

Bret Harte High, according to Ripon Unified Superintendent Louise Johnson, has one in the athletic handbook that includes random drug testing conducted on a weekly basis at a cost of about $5,000 from the general fund.

Blake Morrow, who is the school board student representative, and RHS freshman Isaiah Sanchez, an honor student, came out against such a program, pointing out that general fund money could be better served for the classrooms.

Another student, Randy Machado, was against it. He said money could be better spent on replacing outdated books such as his 1984 Spanish book.

Student athlete Sam Beeler disagreed. “We need to create a safer or better environment,” he said at last Monday’s school board meeting.

Beeler added that some will use recreational drugs such as marijuana and didn’t rule out performance enhancing drugs.

Trustees, meanwhile, tabled the matter, with plans to discuss and further review the drug testing policy at an upcoming workshop.

Morrow, Sanchez and the other Leadership students took part in what Johnson called “a healthy and cordial debate” on the matter on Dec. 3.

She took a straw poll, which revealed 19 students voting in favor of the policy, 22 against, three abstaining and one absent.

RHS athletic director and head varsity football coach Chris Johnson is coming off his finest season. His Indians recently finished with an 11-1 mark including the Trans Valley League crown.

“I’m not sure if drugs are a huge problem (at RHS),” he said, pointing out that most involved in sports and activities are usually the exemplary students.

Johnson added that the zero tolerance policy on eligibility helps keep students in line.

“They know they’re out (of sports) if caught,” he said.

Besides Bret Harte, Lincoln Unified recently adopted a drug testing policy for Lincoln High, according to Johnson.

Information on the upcoming workshop will be available online at or by calling the district office at 209-599-2131.

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