Ohio has been at the forefront of fighting a drug epidemic in our communities. Our community is not exempt from this issue, and we recognize that the ever growing drug culture has made its way into schools.
During the 2015-16 academic year, the school administration and with the unanimous support of the Education Commission decided to study how the school could implement a drug testing program. It was the goal of the study group to “help every family into an awareness of the danger of drug use, to support those who are at risk or using drugs, and utilize counseling practices that a student may require.” Another important point was to include all students in the testing program.
“I felt it was important to have a program here at St. Peter’s because of the current situation across America and close to home,” said HS/JH principal Mike Wasiniak. “One of our students had to help do CPR on a driver after passing out. It turns out that person had overdosed on drugs.”
The study group spent nearly a year developing a policy, seeking input from other schools and parishes in the diocese. After receiving all the necessary approvals from the Diocese of Toledo and legal counsel, St. Peter’s implemented the drug testing program at the start of this academic year.
Parent reception overall was positive about the policy. “Two or three parents called me for further explanations, but they (and all parents) complied with signatures,” Wasiniak said.
All students in grades 7-12, except students in the autism program, are eligible to be drug tested. Administrators can also select students on suspicion of drug use. Parents can also request an anonymous test of their child at their expense.
St. Peter’s is the only school in our area to required all students to be eligible for drug testing. Several public schools test their athletes but do not test the entire student body.
The testing program covers multiple drugs including alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, Cocaine, LSD, Methadone, and Nicotine. However, there is no complete list of banned substances, because the testing program is always evolving to combat new synthetic drugs.
The goal of the policy is to help our students get the help that they need.
To date, 80 students (10 per month) have been tested according to Wasiniak. No parents have yet elected to have their student tested.
“The testing process starts with a urine test, and a test strip that verifies the presence or absence of six different drugs. If any test shows up as a non-negative, I’m informed and the testing specialist takes that sample to the lab for additional testing,” Wasiniak said. “If the lab test also returns a positive test, we immediately set up a meeting with the parents.”
To date, four students have tested positive. Parents for three of those students opted to pull their kids from St. Peter’s instead of going through our program. The fourth student tested positive because another family member in the household was using drugs. That student successfully went through the protocol and has been fully reinstated into the school.
If a student is found in violation of the drug testing policy, they are immediately suspended from all extra-curricular activities and student office leadership positions. Students will be required to undergo five professional counseling, rehabilitation or intervention sessions over a six week period. Students will also be subjected to monthly unannounced testing for up to three months following the violation. Also, they will also be required to perform community service work and lose parking privileges if they drive to school.
If a student doesn’t comply with the requirements, they will receive their second violation, which levies additional penalties from the first violation. The third violation results in expulsion from St. Peter’s School.
St. Peter’s drug testing program also includes “self-referral” program, which allows students to seek help if they fell they are in trouble with drugs, alcohol or tobacco.
If you would like to review the full policy it can be found in the Junior High/High School Handbook, which is posted on the school’s website.
You can find it under Parents » Policy & Procedures.