COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove Local Schools may be one of 65 school districts to work with Great Lakes Biomedical to do random drug testing on students.
The Columbus Grove Board of Education listened to a presentation from Kyle Prueter on Monday highlighting key points about Great Lakes and random drug testing, according to Nick Verhoff, superintendent.
Verhoff said that Columbus Grove began looking into random drug testing about nine months ago. He had heard other districts were doing the testing and has heard positive responses from talking to those districts. About a quarter of Ohio schools are doing some sort of student drug testing program, Prueter said.
“It’s just a bad problem that schools are having to face,” Prueter said.
The interest does not stem from a large number of instances of students using drugs but rather as a way to keep the schools ahead of the game and to help students, Verhoff said.
“We think that is a proactive approach that we can have,” he said.
Random drug testing is a way to intervene if a student is found to be using a drug and to provide help to that student, Verhoff said.
Prueter highlighted that advantage as well. He said that the random drug testing is not about catching children, it’s about prevention. If a student is caught with drugs at some schools, they might be kicked out automatically. If the student is caught with a drug test, they have a chance to fix their problem without losing out on too much.
Monday night was the first step in the process to potentially implementing the testing, according to Verhoff. Next, the board needs to look at the information it heard from Prueter. If the board decides to move forward, it will have to discuss what the policy would look like.
After talking to other schools, Verhoff does not foresee a negative impact on students or school participation.
“While some may think you would have less participation in extracurricular activities at school, studies have shown that is not the case,” Verhoff said.
In fact, participation has increased, something Prueter has also found from talking to the schools Great Lakes services.
With the increasing types of drugs available now, drug testing as a preventative measure is becoming even more important. The drug problem is difficult and can damage youth, Prueter said.
“If you care about today’s youth I would turn that back around and say, why wouldn’t you want to do this,” Prueter said.
The Columbus Grove Key Communicators Committee, a group made up of parents with students who have already graduated, parents with students in school currently, and parents with students who haven’t started school, have been introduced to the idea and gave Verhoff an overall positive response, he said.
The interest in drug testing coincides with Ohio’s “Start Talking” campaign, which encourages students and parents to communicate about drugs, something the state hopes will prevent drug abuse by children.
The athletic department, the high school administrators and the elementary school administrators at Columbus Grove will be working with Verhoff to take educational components from that campaign and bring it into the school and into the community to raise awareness, Verhoff said.