Mandatory drug tests at Beatrice High School

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BEATRICE, Neb. (WOWT) -- Mandatory drug testing is a growing trend in Nebraska public schools.

Affiliate WOWT went to the small city of Beatrice to find out which students are getting tested and why.

Bob Sexton, the assistant principal at Beatrice High School is overseeing the district's new mandatory drug-testing program.

"We have students that use drugs and alcohol. There's not a school around here that's going to tell you differently... We want to educate our kids on the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol," Sexton said.

Under the new policy, all students who compete for Beatrice High in a school-sanctioned activity will be subject to a monthly drug test. The policy covers everyone participating in boys and girls athletics, cheerleading and even academic clubs and fine arts.

If a student wants to compete they will have to stay clean. Each competitor will get a drug test number and numbers are chosen at random.

"We'll bring them down to a private restroom with the company that's doing the testing. They'll take a urine sample and then they'll be sent off to a laboratory," Sexton said.

Samples will be tested for alcohol and illegal drugs. A positive result could force the student to sit out from competition and get counseling. Their parents will be notified but not law enforcement. The student would not face any academic consequences.

Students can opt out of the drug-testing once their season or activity is over, but once they are out they have to stay out of all activities for an entire calendar year. That means a junior football player who chooses to stop getting drug-tested once football season is finished would miss his entire senior year of football.

The Beatrice school board voted 6-0 in favor of the new policy.

Some Beatrice fans like Brian Little wonder how drug tests will affect the school's competitions, but he still believes the new policy is needed. Little told WOWT: "It could deter kids from going out for sports, but there's too many drugs going around. I wouldn't oppose it at all."

Beatrice High School officials estimate an entire year's worth of testing will cost the district between $3,000 and $5,000.

Parents will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs unless their child tests positive and they decide to appeal with another test.