AMHERST — Amherst Schools is joining a growing county-wide effort to end drug abuse by conducting random drug tests on students.
The school district on Monday implemented a policy that will allow the school to test students in grades 9 to 12 for drugs — including cigarettes and alcohol — starting next school year.
“The primary purpose of random drug testing is prevention,” Amherst Schools Superintendent Steve Sayers said, adding that he believes the community will support the policy. “This policy gives students another reason to say no to drugs.”
Starting in August, students involved in extracurricular activities and sports, as well as students who drive to and park at school, could be subject to random drug testing and group testing. Additionally, if school officials have reason to believe a student could be using drugs, the student could be subjected to “reasonable suspicion” testing. Parents also will be able to call the school and request that their child be tested for drugs.
If a student tests positive for drugs — and does not have a prescribed medication — the school will contact his or her parents. The student will be sent to a chemical dependency counselor for an assessment and will be kept from participating in some sports or extracurricular activities, Sayers said.
The superintendent said the school district has been looking into implementing a drug testing policy for more than a year and has spoken with superintendents at other schools about their drug testing policies.
“Obviously the drug issues in Lorain County have been well documented over the last year or so,” Sayers said, adding that Vermilion Schools and the Fremont school district have had success with their random drug testing policies.
“This policy is not going to solve the issue, but it’s a step that we feel like we need to take to do our part,” he said.