School drug testing policies: do they work?

TOLEDO Perrysburg is one of the districts that's been doing the random tests for a few years now. Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler says the district starts with a drug test of all student athletes in grades seven through twelve. "And then in the middle of the season, we do a random test," says Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler. Hosler says the district generally tests about 10% of it's athletes. "When you're talking about drugs, alcohol and nicotine use there is no magic bullet that says if you do this, it is going to take care of all of this. I think it has been an effective tool that we can use."

Like Perrysburg Schools, Sylvania Schools just initiated random drug testing. "Our goal is to test about twenty kids a month in each high school," says Tim Zieroff who is the Assistant Superintendent of Sylvania Schools. "Initially we're looking at a give panel test, and the average cost of the test is $22 dollars per student." The test can be customized, but tests in general include the larger addictive drugs, such as opioids, amphetamines, methamphetamines, marijuana, nicotine, anabolic steroids and alcohol. Part of the cost in Sylvania will be picked up by the Title 4 federal funding that covers the overall well being of students, the other part is paid for by the school district.

The students are picked at random. Kyle Prueter is President of Great Lakes Biomedical which does the testing for over 125 schools in Ohio. Once the consent forms are filled out by students and parents, they are assigned a number. "A school will determine that they want forty kids tested and we will type in 40 and the random number generator will shoot out forty different names," says Prueter.

In most school districts there is a one strike policy. If a student tests positive they are offered treatment and counseling with follow up drug screens and allowed to return to play. Still other districts will follow that policy while also requiring the student to sit out a specific number of games. Many of the area districts also allow a student to self refer by admitting they violated the policy and avoid missing participation while agreeing to treatment. They only get one time to do that before they risk losing playing time and have to agree to follow up drug testing.