"Steroids is a new issue; it's brand new to the policy, which is why we have to update it," Frances Pliskin, guidance counselor at Maple Shade High School, told school board members.
Martin Harmon, the high school principal, said, "So far, it hasn't been a visual problem, but we have heard rumors and innuendoes about some of the kids who are into bodybuilding, that they may be using steroids."
The policy applies to students during regular school hours and at school functions such as dances, football games and field trips.
The procedure for dealing with students under the influence of drugs will remain the same: The principal will notify the parents and the superintendent and arrange for an immediate medical examination.
"Even if a student admits to using drugs, the student is still tested," Pliskin said.
The reason for testing is to find out whether the drug use was an isolated incident or whether the student is addicted. Students who refuse to take the test will be barred from returning to classes, Harmon said.
The penalties for drug use or possession also will remain the same under the new policy: Positive test results will bring a minimum suspension of five days. The minimum suspension for a second offense is 10 days. School officials may notify police, although they rarely take that step, Pliskin said.
Board member Charles Ansert expressed concern that the police are not called more often, since drug use or possession is a criminal offense.
"It's a judgment call; we always call the parents and tell the principal," Pliskin said. "But we generally don't call the police in for
drug use. However, we do call them when we find out a student is selling drugs."
Students caught selling drugs are suspended for a minimum of 10 days, and the school board evaluates whether expulsion or additional suspension is in order.
But whatever penalty is imposed, records will continue to be kept confidential, in compliance with federal law.