WADSWORTH — Drug testing for middle and high school students will return for a third year after the school board voted Monday to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Medina County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Board to conduct the testing.
The school district spent $24,388 on testing during the 2018-19 school year, which applies to students participating in non-academic extracurricular activities and those who purchase parking passes. That latest annual cost represents a roughly $500 increase from the previous school year.
Superintendent Andy Hill said about $12 is spent per urine test, which screens for illegal drugs, nicotine and alcohol.
“The program has been well-accepted,” Hill said. “We went through a really extensive process the year before we implemented it where we got a lot of community feedback. We also put out a draft policy and gained feedback through that and made some revisions off of it.”
During the 2018-19 school year, 1,044 high school students were drug tested with 26 tests coming back positive. All 26 students who tested positive for drug, nicotine or alcohol use accepted entry into a treatment program.
Two high school students tested positive more than once.
Just one middle school student tested positive among 564 who were screened over the same period.
In the program’s first year, 1,091 high school students were tested and with 14 positive results. All but one of those students accepted treatment, according to figures from Hill. One student registered more than one positive test, according to district records.
Hill said no students tested positive in both year one and year two.
“We have policies set up where when you test positive it’s not automatically punitive if you choose to go in and get an assessment done and follow the recommendations of the professional,” he said. “Is it something we can for sure say is making an impact? I don’t know. It’s more subjective and we find out what kids tell us.”
A first positive drug test results in the student having the option to receive treatment and a professional assessment. If they refuse that option, student-athletes are suspended from their sport for half of its season.
If the positive test occurs near the end of a season, the suspension is rolled into the next year. Students who choose to begin participating in a new sport see their suspensions carry over into the new activity.
For non-athletes, refusal of treatment leads to suspension from their chosen extracurricular and/or parking privileges for nine weeks.
Any student who tests positive must also agree to take up to three follow-up random tests or face indefinite suspension from sports or activities. The follow-up tests are paid for by the student’s parent or guardian.
Penalties for second and third positive tests include automatic suspension from sports and activities. Students who test positive a third time are barred indefinitely from sports and activities but can earn eligibility back through one year of clean test results.
Even for repeat offenders, the policy does not call for suspensions from class or documentation of positive results in a student’s academic record.
Information regarding a positive result is not disclosed to legal authorities unless it’s requested through a subpoena. In that event, the student and their family are notified before the information is shared.
“What we hear from kids is that it gives them a reason to say no,” Hill said. “When they’re put in situations where there can be pressure it’s a reason for them to say no. We believe it’s working well for us.”