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Published: Saturday, 5/9/2009

Proposal on drug testing at Perrysburg Schools is mulled

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Drug testing athletes is not a decision the Perrysburg school district is taking lightly.

Nearly a year after the Wood County Educational Service Center landed a federal grant to pay for drug testing at Perrysburg and five other Wood County high schools, Perrysburg has scheduled a community meeting Monday to discuss its proposed policy.

We initially looked at starting [drug testing] this spring, but we put together a community committee and just decided to take the time to make sure we get the policy right, Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler said. We didn t want to be rushed by an artificial deadline.

School officials plan to explain the proposed policy to the community and field questions at 7 p.m. Monday in the high school auditorium.

The proposal calls for start-of-the-season drug tests for seventh graders through seniors who are in sports and other competitive extracurricular activities such as cheerleading as well as random testing during each sports season. Students who test positive will lose eligibility for 20 percent of the regular season and will be required to take part in a drug assessment and complete recommendations.

Mr. Hosler said the grant will pay only for drug testing at the high school, but in talking with students about the proposed policy leaders decided to extend it to seventh and eighth graders.

Some students said if you re serious about this, you should start at junior high because that s when kids start traveling in different circles and that s when they start thinking of those things, Mr. Hosler said.

Barry Parsons, who is overseeing the grant for the Educational Service Center, said that like Perrysburg, both Elmwood and Northwood are finalizing drug testing policies for their districts and plan to adopt them this spring for implementation in the fall.

Rossford and Otsego high schools already had drug-testing policies and have been using the grant to pay for them this school year, he said. North Baltimore High School did drug testing several years ago but discontinued it to save money.

When we offered the grant, they thought this is our opportunity to get it back and they did, Mr. Parsons said. The [North Baltimore] board voted in December to go ahead and start testing again, and they started testing in March.

Each school district created its own policy.

Obviously we don t want to dictate what types of testing and who should be tested other than what our guidelines say, and our guidelines say we can offer testing for athletes, competitive extracurriculars, and also for volunteers, Mr. Parsons said.

The volunteers he was speaking of are students who consent to random drug testing. Not many do, Mr. Parsons said, although the county is mulling incentives such as fast-food gift cards for students who agree to be randomly tested.

Mr. Parsons, a longtime coach and athletic director in Defiance, said he believes drug testing is effective.

We would always tell kids, I don t want to catch you using drugs or I don t want to catch you drinking, and they would say, You won t catch me, he said. Now we have the opportunity to be able to say, I know that you ve used this drug and we re going to try to remedy that and get you some help with that.

The biggest reason for the testing is it gives those kids who don t want to take drugs and drink an out. Now, they can say, I know we re going to get tested. I don t know when because it s random, but I really don t want to do that because I might get caught. It gives them an out, and it tells them we re serious about this.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.



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