A clearer picture of what student drug testing could look like in the Wellington Schools began to take shape at a May 17 school board meeting.
Similar to proposals laid out in Firelands and other area districts, the testing would allow urine testing of students participating in extracurricular activities, those who drive to school, and also any student whose behavior raises “reasonable” suspicions of drug use among faculty.
“We have had three students come into the high school under the influence in the past two months,” said Wellington High School principal Tina Drake. “This is a united front to get this done and we hope to have it in place in time for next fall. We’re waiting for the actual policy to be drawn up and fine-tuned. Once that happens, we will plan a parent meeting to discuss all of it.”
Students who fall under the policy’s guidelines would be asked to opt in at the start of the school year before they are allowed to participate in extracurriculars or receive parking passes. If a student chooses not to opt in at that time but changes their mind later in the year, the family would have to cover the cost of a negative drug test before opting in. In the case of a positive test, the family would be asked to front the cost of any further tests that are needed.
Great Lakes Biomedical is likely to be chosen to conduct the testing. At this time, the testing would be limited to grades nine through 12, but expanding to include the seventh and eighth grades in the future was not ruled out at the meeting.
Breathalyzers at school functions were mentioned as a possibility — as were ETG tests, which check for ethyl glucuronide in a test subject’s urine. ETG is present 70 to 80 hours after consuming alcohol.
“This is about finding a way to help, not punishment,” said guidance counselor Patrick Gallion. “We don’t want to kick anyone out. We have prevention educators who will come in to help those who test positive.”
Some parents at the meeting brought up the question of testing staff. District superintendent Dennis Mock said that’s not possible due to union contracts.
Bus drivers are tested because they work behind the wheel.
School board member Kevin Stump emphasized the need to tell students about the different levels of danger associated with various drugs.
“Is this policy sound in staying in front of the drug problem?,” he asked. “I’m not fundamentally opposed to the testing but we’re dealing with a new set of drugs compared to 20 years ago. We need to address the difference between pot and heroin.”
The district is aiming for a first reading of the policy June 14 and a final reading June 28.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Wellington High School principal Tina Drake lays out more details on student drug testing at a school board meeting May 17.