NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio (WOIO) - School board members in North Olmsted are considering drug testing their middle school students.
The North Olmsted school district told parents the tests have worked well in deterring drug use at the high school level.
Administrators started testing high schoolers involved in sports or extracurricular activities in 2015.
“We pride ourselves on being proactive,” the principal said four years ago. “We are not a community that buries our head in the sand and says we don’t have a problem. We’re going to take a look and see how we can help.”
Karen Kitchen owns USA Mobile Drug Testing of Northeast Ohio. The company administers drug tests.
“I think the initial reaction of a lot of people is that ‘gosh, that’s so early for testing students,’ ” she said.
The statistics may surprise you though. According to the Cuyahoga County Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2018, 21 percent of middle school students said they’d consumed at least a drink of alcohol, 10 percent said they’d tried marijuana, and 6 percent said they’d abused prescription drugs.
“We know that drug use and abuse is happening at younger and younger ages and we know how damaging it can be the younger kids use drugs,” Kitchen said.
Several schools added similar precautions.
In 2017 Nordonia offered parents free drug testing kits.
And Avon schools began testing both middle and high schoolers four years ago.
Even though many believe there’s nothing to lose by testing kids for drugs, the American Academy of Pediatrics is against schools administering random drug testing.
The group says testing can ruin a student-school relationship and cause problems with confidentiality of medical records.
If passed in North Olmsted, only middle schoolers involved in sports or extra curricular activities will be subject to the random testing.
According to state law, public schools cannot implement random drug testing of the whole student body.
The North Olmsted Board of Education will vote on whether to drug test middle schoolers at its next meeting on August 21st at 7 p.m..