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Published: Thursday, 12/18/2008

Perrysburg schools plan drug testing

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Drug testing soon may be implemented in Perrysburg schools.

A committee was recently formed to create the district's first drug testing policy, which may be developed as early as February, Superintendent Tom Hosler said.

"It gives them another reason to say 'no,'•" said Mr. Hosler, who had supported drug testing in his previous job with Huron schools in Wayne County, Mich.

The U.S. Supreme Court has limited which students should be drug tested.

Students involved in the Perrysburg High School marching band would not be among those tested, for example, because the federal ruling bars drug testing in an atmosphere where students are graded, Mr. Hosler said.

Those in a school-sponsored competitive activity would be fair game.

Mr. Hosler said the policy should favor prevention - not punishment - though consequences would escalate for repeat offenders. Parents should be involved in the process if their children tested positive, he added.

The committee would be charged with developing guidelines and any penalties for violating the policy.

Testing would be covered with federal money, awarded to the Wood County Educational Service Center on behalf of six school districts. Perrysburg schools was among those that received the funding.

The grants will fund new testing programs in the works for Northwood and Elmwood, and help expand existing programs at Rossford and Otsego high schools. The North Baltimore schools district is using the funds to re-create the drug testing program that was a casualty of budget cuts two years ago.

The Wood County grants, provided by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, would total more than $1.5 million over three years.

Wood County Educational Service Center was one of about 50 recipients across the country that received nearly $5.8 million in federal funds for drug testing programs.

Drug testing provides a "stop-sign mentality," said Lorrie Lewandowski, who coordinates the prevention program in Wood County.

"The kids know they could be tested," she said. "It's not punitive, it's meant to give the kids an 'out.'•"

The grant also allowed the county's educational service center to hire a grant director, Barry Parsons, who retired as athletic director of Defiance schools in 2005. He is paid $23,947 per year for his part-time duties.



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