By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
The Boardman school board is considering drug testing every student who drives to school or participates in sports.
A committee of parents and school leaders was formed in September to look at the idea, said Frank Lazzeri, school superintendent.
“A mandatory drug-testing policy would provide not only a strong and positive message to both the students and community, but would provide a safer and healthier learning environment academically, athletically and socially,” said committee chairman George Statler.
It also will provide direction and assistance to students and parents when a student is identified as needing assistance with substance abuse, he said.
The district currently has a voluntary drug-testing policy in place.
If adopted, the new policy would require a hair sample from students being tested.
A hair-sample test detects drug use for a 90-day period and is nearly impossible to defeat, Statler said. After the initial test, a percentage of the students would be randomly tested at later dates.
Under the proposal, the district would pay the cost of the testing.
The testing would cost the district $25,000 to $30,000 annually, Lazzeri said.
If a student tests positive for drug use, he or she will be subject to further testing at parent or guardian expense.
“If a student is clean, they’ll never have to pay for a test,” said Jared Cardillo, Boardman High School principal.
Though the policy would apply only to students who drive to school or participate in athletics to start, eventually all students who participate in extracurricular activities would be included.
This school year, the high school issued approximately 500 parking passes, said Cardillo. There are about 1,500 students in the high school.
The board will revisit the issue at its April meeting. Issues, such as penalties for a positive test, still need to be determined, said Lazzeri.
The policy could be in place for the 2014-15 school year. There is no plan to drug test students in the district who do not drive to school or participate in extracurricular activities.