Sex offender, drug testing policies addressed

Commerce – Commerce ISD administrators Monday addressed student safety, with discussion of its current sex offender policy and the possible implementation of a drug testing policy.

The first item was placed on the agenda after a parent, who is also a registered sex offender, voiced opposition to the policy at a previous meeting. Under the rule, any registered sex offender may not enter or be present on district property, unless they are transporting their children to and from school, or attending their child's events in which they are participating.

Trustee Russell Armstrong spoke strongly for the measure, saying how the district needs to air on the side of caution, and keep the policy the way it is. He also stated the district needs to do a better job of enforcing it.

Trustee Randy Starks inquired about considering each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Russell said that kind of planning could get the district in trouble.

"If we dictate a low threat, and someone does something, you open up the district to major lawsuits," says Russell.

Another hot topic throughout school districts is drug testing. Administrators discussed and gave Superintendent Blake Cooper the go-ahead to proceed with formulating such a policy.

Cooper stated how if implemented, the random testing would cost $12 for each student, and could only be done on those involved in extracurricular or co-curricular activities, or upon request from a parent.

He stressed the policy would serve as a preventative measure and/or one that is aimed at providing help and counseling to those who are impacted by drugs.

"This is not a gotcha thing," said Cooper.

Trustee Medley Wilson reiterated thoughts on the policy being a measure to help students. "If we can stop one person it'd be a success."

The Greenville ISD is scheduled to receive the second draft of its proposed student drug testing policy when it meets Tuesday night. Last year, the Rains ISD also implemented a drug testing policy.