BEATRICE – A public school district in southeast Nebraska will keep its random drug testing program.

The Beatrice School Board voted down a plan to eliminate the testing program, on a 4-2 vote, Monday night…with one member absent. Only Board President Eric Trusty and Brandon Vetrovsky voted to end the program that’s been in existence for nearly ten years. Trusty felt there are other ways to handle suspected cases of substance abuse.

"If a student athlete or a person in a band, or maybe in a play, is suspected of using...then, there is already policies in place where that can be addressed within the handbook."

Board member Doris Martin had favored suspending the program for the remainder of this year, giving additional time to look at changes. She said the program has some short-term benefits.

"I am guessing that if a teacher went to the administration and said a test did not work...they would not be allowed to just eliminate the test, but the expectation would be for them to change the test...and I think that should have been done before the administration came to us asking for us to eliminate the policy."

Board member Janet Byars says either way, the decision is not easy. She voted in favor of keeping the program. One of her concerns is for the substances the district is not testing for.

"We're not testing for alcohol, nicotine, THC. I think that's a concern of mine. Another concern was, we know that there are issues with drugs within the community...and what message are we sending to the public when we say we don't need this drug testing?"

Byars said she was inclined to support seeing the program suspended in order to make changes that would improve it.  The random drug testing program, at Beatrice High School, involves only students who participate in athletics or other activities. School officials say over time, it has yielded few tests results indicating the presence of a substance. Throughout the discussion, there’s been little, if any public input during board meeting debate about the program.

Board member Charles Riedesul, who had brought forward research to consider on such programs, was not at Monday night’s meeting.