Palestine Independent School District held their first round of drug testing this week — reporting all around success with the recently implemented program.

T.H.E. Lab of Tyler, hired to conduct the testing, notified Palestine High School and Middle School of the testing just prior to arrival Monday morning — choosing 150 students from the two campuses to test.

“It was very orderly and well organized,” reported PISD’s Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Suzanne Eiben. “The staff, administration and students were all very cooperative.”

Students were taken out of class and gathered in the respective campus gymnasiums, where lab employees explained the process to students and began gathering samples.

“PISD had no part in gathering samples — they were merely there to monitor the students,” said district drug program administrator Misty Hood. “Students were not kept out of class very long.

“The whole process went very smoothly,” she added. “We started getting results back that afternoon and the next day.”

Eiben reported that of the 150 students, less than a handful tested positive for drugs.

“Meetings have been held with those students, parents and administrators to see what can be done to help the students,” Eiben said. “We are not doing this to condemn them — we want to do what we can to deter them from drug use.

“That is our whole purpose in creating this policy.”

PISD Superintendent Jerry Mayo also was pleased with the kickoff of the program, stating that he hopes it will help change the stereotypes the community has about drug use in the district.

“I felt assured that this program would be successful and it has turned out to be very positive,” he said. “We have taken a positive approach to it and so far everything has turned out good.”

Hood, who along with middle school drug program administrator Lisa Hampton, oversees the program at the campus level.

“I want to thank everyone involved in the program,” Hood said. “The students were orderly and respectful and the staff did so much to make the process problem free.

“I am just very pleased with everyone that participated in this first round of random testing.”

Under the PISD drug policy — adopted by trustees in September — random drug testing will be required of any student in the sixth through 12th grades who participates in any extracurricular activities or who plans to park a vehicle on campus.

Random tests will be conducted as many as 20 times during a given school year, with no less than five percent and no more than 50 percent of the students participating being randomly selected throughout the year.

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