Before the first touchdown pass is thrown or the first pom-pon is shook Springfield Local School District athletes will have a hurdle to clear before stepping on any practice fields: a drug test.
The district is preparing to move forward with a plan to drug test athletes before the season and randomly test them during the season. Students already pay a $50 sport participation fee, and the district will use money from that fund to pay for the tests at the school.
The district is using Great Lakes BioMedical, a drug-testing laboratory in Perrysburg, to administer the test to about 450 students.
The district, which has 22 sports, is one of several in northwest Ohio to drug test its athletes, including Clay High School in Oregon and Lake High School in Millbury.
The district has scheduled a meeting for Monday night at 7 p.m. at Springfield High School for parents and students to ask questions about the issue.
“I think it's a good idea,” said Spencer Warders, 17, a Springfield High School football player and wrestler. “If they are going to be serious about their sport, they'll clean up their act and give up the party life.”
The district sees the testing as part of its anti-drug effort.
“We feel it would give students an additional way to say `No,'” Superintendent Cynthia Beekley said. “As athletes, they might be at a party and can say no and say, `I know I might be tested.' It gives them some support to say no and ensure their safety in athletic contests.”
The board of education voted in May, 1999, to begin a drug test policy with one test prior to the season and two during the course of the season.
But the plan was put on hold after several questions arose about privacy and who would give the test.
Under the new policy, if a student fails the first drug test, a second test will be given.
If a second test is failed, the district will try to get the student help but not pursue a suspension.
However, the student no longer will be allowed to participate in sports.
“It's meant to be helpful,” Dr. Beekley said.
The district has received favorable responses about the policy from the community, Dr. Beekley said.
The district cannot have a uniform policy and test the entire student body.
Schools have tried to test all their students, but they have lost in court, Dr. Beekley said. This is different, she said, because it becomes a safety issue with athletes who could endanger themselves or others while paying sports under the influence of drugs.
“You can't test everybody,” she said.
“The court says it's a violation of their constitutional rights.”
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