September 16, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
62°F
test

In Vermilion schools, universal drug tests possible

VERMILION — All students attending Vermilion Schools could be tested for drugs after the school board approved an update to the district’s drug testing policy.

Under the new policy, parents will be able to “opt in,” or sign up their student for random drug testing. Previously, the policy tested students who participated in extracurricular activities or those who purchased a parking permit. In January, the policy was expanded to include students who qualify for special privileges, like early sign-out days. The change was made during Monday’s school board meeting. The new policy will go into effect during the 2013-14 academic year.

The cost of testing will continue to be paid for by the school district, according to a news release. In August, the school board estimated that each drug test would cost between $20 and $54 per student, depending on the method used.

Nick Worner, communications associate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, said the ACLU is still against the idea of drug testing students, but he said the change is legal, given that the school is not drug testing all of its students.

The U.S. Supreme Court has backed the practice of drug testing for students in sports and other extracurricular activities, but many state constitutions, such as Pennsylvania’s, provide stronger privacy protections, declaring random testing as unconstitutional.  Worner said parents can legally sign their kid up for testing because they are allowed to make decisions for their children.

In January, Assistant Superintendent Jim Balotta reported just one student had tested positive for marijuana use since testing began. Board members proposed the policy, believing that the testing would give students a reason to say no to using drugs when confronted with peer pressure.

“The Vermilion Board of Education is proud to be one of the first school districts in the nation to offer this opportunity to the local community. We believe that this initiative will help students avoid the pitfalls of drug and alcohol abuse, and become productive and responsible future citizens,” read a news release from the school district.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.