Cumberland Valley School Board members voted to postpone random drug testing Monday, saying they wanted more information on alcohol and steroid tests.

The board planned to vote Monday on procedures it developed with Holy Spirit Hospital, which will conduct random drug tests this school year on high school students who are involved in athletics, extracurricular or cocurricular activities or who drive to school.

But board members halted the vote when they realized some tests weren't part of the plan.

"My main concern is that's kind of new information to me," board President Karen Christie said after being told the hospital could test for steroids "on request" but they wouldn't be part of the regular tests.

"That was my understanding all along that (coaches' concerns about steroids) was what precipitated" random drug testing, she said.

Michael Cassidy, the attorney representing Holy Spirit Hospital, estimated testing for steroids would cost between $100 to $150 per test and would have to be sent away.

Otherwise, the tests cost $25 per student to test for five drugs and $50 to look for 10 drugs.

"If it's solely funding, then let's have that conversation," Christie said.

Alcohol questions

She also asked why alcohol was not on the list of tested drugs.

"This was our top problem on the survey," she said, referring to a May student drug survey that found rates of student drinking higher than the national average.

Cassidy, who works in the same law firm as district Solicitor Jerry Duffie and was involved in formulating the drug policy, said he thought school officials had decided to test for alcohol only when they suspect a student has been drinking.

Rather than test for it randomly, "there was acceptance of the idea that we would be able to identify students who were under the influence of alcohol," Cassidy said.

The list of tested drugs includes marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methadone, PCP and barbiturates.

Teamwide tests suggested

Board member Robert Long Jr. said he wanted to see the district do "unit sweeps" where everyone in a certain activity would be tested.

Although unit sweeps are included in the random drug testing policy, they aren't mentioned in the procedures the board tabled.

"In order to make this drug-testing program effective, I think it has to be driven in large part on the unit sweeps," Long said, adding that positive peer pressure within teams would keep students from doing drugs.

Administrators said the district and Holy Spirit are not yet ready to conduct a unit sweep.

Parents object

A handful of parents also voiced opposition to the policy, sometimes interrupting board members to make comments out of turn during the two and a half hour meeting.

Kim Maylath of Hampden Township, whose daughter is a sophomore and plays the viola in the orchestra, said she didn't know about the testing until she read about it in the district newsletter in August, a couple of months after the policy was approved. In March the district announced a committee would be formed to study the possibility of random drug testing.

Maylath calls the testing a "terrible privacy invasion for my 15-year-old daughter."

At the meeting district officials passed out a time line of announcements at board meetings and media coverage of the drug testing. "Every director around this table gave serious consideration to this policy," Christie said.

Officials say they have mostly gotten positive feedback on the testing policy, which the board approved in June.

Kristin Mock of Hampden Township said the testing should apply across the board, not just for students in activities.

Solicitor Michael Cassidy said the district can take away privileges such as playing sports or driving to school but legally can't enforce the drug testing policy for students who aren't involved in activities.