FREMONT — Fremont Ross High School students will undergo random drug testing next school year, following the school board’s support for a new drug testing policy.
The policy covers student athletes, participants in extracurricular activities, and those who drive to school and park on school property.
Roughly half of the high school’s 1,300 students meet the criteria for unannounced urine screenings, which can test for alcohol and drugs, said Superintendent Traci McCaudy.
Parents whose children are not covered under the policy may choose to opt-in their students.
Ms. McCaudy said the policy is one component of a wider approach to improving student wellness and reducing drug and alcohol use. Other efforts included developing a health curriculum with a focus on awareness and prevention, implemented this school year in grades 6-12.
The testing policy aims to give students a reason to abstain from drugs and encourage drug users to get treatment.
Positive tests will not cause suspension or expulsion from school, and test results will not be documented in a student’s academic record, the policy states.
Students who violate the policy for the first time will be denied from participating in 20 percent of games or other activities, but may continue to practice with a team. First-time violators must make an appointment with a counselor for a drug assessment and perform 20 hours of community service, among other consequences.
Second-time violators will not be allowed to participate in athletics, extracurricular activities, or parking privileges for one calendar year, plus additional penalties. A third violation may result in the student being permanently denied participation in such activities.
Great Lakes Biomedical will conduct the testing. Ms. McCaudy said the district set aside $20,000 from state casino tax revenue to pay for testing next school year, but she expects it will cost far less. The Fremont school board this week unanimously approved its first reading. A second reading will take place at a June board meeting, and the board indicated it is ready to begin to implement the policy. A 6 p.m. June 11 informational meeting for parents will take place at the high school.
School board President Alex Gorobetz said a drug testing survey showed “a majority of the community felt that it would be a positive step for the school to take.”
Drug testing policies are fairly common among Ohio public schools for sports teams, since activities such as football are “not part of the educational program,” said Hollie Reedy, chief legal counsel for the Ohio School Boards Association. In 2012, St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy in Toledo instituted a random testing program for all students and staff. Spokesman Zach Silka said the number of positive test results has “been very low,” but he would not provide a number.
“We’ve been very pleased with the substance abuse testing policy that we’ve had,” he said.
“It’s really been kind of a non-issue. It’s just kind of become... the expectation here.”
Contact Vanessa McCray at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6065.