A high school in Ohio has announced that it will begin randomly drug testing its students at least once each year.
"Given the great pressure our students face, now is the time to take an even more aggressive stance against the threat of drug use," a letter from the school stated. "The impact of drug use on young students and their families is staggering and our community is not immune to this issue."
The school described its initiative, which begins in January 2020, as "an important step" in helping students understand "the sacredness of their own bodies." Administrators also cited reasons such as peer pressure and student wellness in their letter.
Although the policy is completely mandatory — tests will reportedly be counted as positive if a student refuses — there is no punishment for first-time offenders. The school said it will only inform the student, their parents or guardians and if necessary, medical or counseling personnel for substance abuse screening with the parent's permission.
"Every student who attends this school, as well as his/her parent(s) or guardian(s), freely and willingly consent to allow the student to undergo drug testing," the letter stated.
A second offense, however, will result in disciplinary action, which the school said will vary based on the circumstances and the student's record. The letter added that more than one offense could "jeopardize the student's enrollment at the school and could result in dismissal."
It's unclear how students are reacting to the measure, but some community members seem to be supportive. Chris Maraschiello, a parent of children at the school who also teaches at a public school in the area, told WXIX-TV he agrees with the new policy.
"I think this is a good step in the right direction," Maraschiello said. "I think the school community should embrace it."
"Private school private rules. Jobs drug test. Sounds good to me—it could end up saving someone’s life actually," another community member said in a Facebook comment.
Others, however, took issue with the proposal, calling it an overstep or voicing concerns about the tests wasting money. WXIX-TV reported that parents and guardians will cover costs related to the tests.
"If I suspect my kids are using I will test them. [It's] not the school's decision and you expect the parents to pay for the cost, I don't think so. If you want to test them then you should pay for it," another Facebook user wrote.
"Schools just need to stay out of [their] students' personal lives, period. What they do on their personal time is really nothing to do with school or its staff — it’s more like an invasion of privacy," another commented.
Each will be tested at least once per year, however, they can also be tested if "a member of the faculty, staff or administration suspects them of being under the influence of a controlled substance." There is no limit to how many times a student can be tested in a given year.