BY MARRAYA YOUNGBLOOD
The Wadsworth Board of Education has instituted a policy concerning the drug testing of its students. Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, more than half the students at the high school, as well a few middle schoolers, will be affected. The policy was adopted at the school board meeting held this past Monday, May 8.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio had the highest number of deaths from synthetic opioids. In 2014, Ohio had the most heroin related deaths with 11.4% of the 10,574 deaths nationally.
The district hopes that drug testing will provide a healthy and safe environment to its students and undermine the effects of peer pressure. But, high school teacher and coach John Burton is skeptical.
“Peer pressure is a driving point when it comes to drug use among teenagers,” says Burton.
Legally, the district is only allowed to test students who are involved in an extracurricular activities or a student who drives to school. However, parents can choose to have their child tested through an opt-in program. In an electronic survey created by the Board of Education, only 4% of the responses said that all students should be drug tested.
“I think it’s unfair that they’re testing athletes,” said Alex Teagle, 10.
These tests will be conducted at the start of each activity, and then randomly each month. Yet, all eligible student participants will be tested at least one time during the school year regardless of when they join the activity.
The cost for each individual test is $13, which adds up to $20,000 annually. Some believe the cost of this new policy is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
“I think it is money that could be spent on something more important,” said Kira Tavanello, 10.
In the case that a student is found using drugs, he or she has two options: the student can either receive treatment, or be suspended from 50% of his or her season. Student drivers not involved in an activity will lose parking privileges for a period of 9 weeks. Both options will also require the student to submit up to three follow up tests at their own expense.
For second offenses, the student will face new consequences based upon the original course of action they decided to take. More information on these violations can be found on the district’s website under “Wadsworth City Schools Bylaws and Policies.”
The District hopes drug testing makes a safe alcohol, drug and nicotine free environment. It is their goal to help students achieve their full academic potential while they are here at Wadsworth High School.