The Olentangy Local School District is considering expanding student and employee drug testing.
Currently, the district randomly drug tests student-athletes in all three high schools (30 per school per week, in-season and out-of-season); any employee holding a Commercial Driver’s License (pre-employment, randomly, and post-accident); and for all employees on reasonable suspicion, said chief operations officer Todd Meyer.
“Last year, we tested over 1,300 students in all three high schools, and less than 1 percent tested positive,” Meyer said at the Olentangy Board of Education’s recent retreat. The board had requested an overview of the district’s current drug testing practices.
Chief academic officer Jack Fette presented findings from a study by Hanover Research out of Washington, D.C. Among the findings: teachers have one of the lowest drug usage rates among all professional groups; the U.S. Department of Transportation recommends quarterly testing; that marijuana is the most common drug used; and that 27 percent of middle- and high-school students use marijuana nationally, as compared to 10 percent of middle- and high-school students in the district (based on a 2013 survey).
“What this shows us is that random drug testing helps to reduce drug use, and that we have to decide how much of a problem we have in the district among students and teachers to determine if we move forward,” Fette said. “We’re doing a lot of really good stuff right now that is helpful in prevention.”
Superintendent Mark Raiff said he favored a proactive approach, because drug use ties in with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and suicide.
Board members mentioned possible testing for students involved in extracurricular activities, as well as student-drivers. However, there was concern about whether those students would be added to the student-athlete pool or be in a separate pool.
There was also talk of pre-employment drug and alcohol testing for all future employees. It was estimated to cost $10,000 to $16,000.
The cost of drug testing to the district is $28 to $38 for student-athletes; $39 to $44 for CDL holders; and $44 to $120 for employees. It was said that if a student tested positive, they had to undergo five more weeks of testing at the parents’ expense.
No action was taken during the retreat. The district’s policy committee will draft changes for the board to vote on at a future meeting.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.