SMITH COUNTY — Concerned parents of KHS students broke into applause on Monday night when the KISD Board of Trustees voted to institute a random drug testing policy at KHS. The issue of drug testing at the high school campus has been discussed at two board meetings preceding Monday’s meeting.

Monday’s meeting opened with public comments from parents of KISD students. The speakers discussed a variety of concerns they had about the state of the high school campus, including drug use, disciplinary issues, transfer students and low test scores.

Amy Donham, who had three sons attend KISD, spoke about the serious drug problem at the school district.

“After moving to Kilgore in 2013, my second oldest son started his sophomore year at KHS. He became friends with kids that I made sure came from good families but by the end of our son’s sophomore year, I realized that he and his sweet friends were doing drugs pretty heavily. In the course of attempting to separate our son from that lifestyle I became aware of two things: that his statement of ‘everybody does it’ was not an exaggeration and that Kilgore High School was doing nothing to discourage the majority of the student body from doing this,” Donham said.

Donham also said her third oldest son began his freshman year at KHS and asked to come home or change schools after the first semester because he was disturbed by the prolific drug use happening at the school.

Shannon Thompson, a KHS graduate whose children are third generation KISD students, read from a prepared statement explaining his concerns about the school.

“I am deeply concerned about the direction in which our school district is headed,” Thompson said. “While visiting with teachers on campus, I have seen an atmosphere of discouragement on our campuses. Why are teachers leaving? Do teachers feel supported in our schools?”

Thompson described a series of problems he had witnessed as a parent and while working as a substitute teacher at the high school, middle school and intermediate campuses, including an attitude among students who do not fear discipline from teachers and faculty.

“I’ve got pride in this district,” he said. “Most of these people out here do. This thing is going downhill quick. Somebody’s got to do something.”

Thompson brought a three-page typed letter to the meeting which he gave to the board members. The letter, along with a series of other concerns, pointed to an allegedly serious drug problem on the KHS campus.

“How often does the drug dog come and who where decides where the drug dog goes? Does it go over the whole campus when it comes? The kids all know who has or sells drugs. They can’t go to the bathroom because someone is smoking cigarettes or something else. They claim the administrators know but nothing is done,” the letter read.

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