WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley Community Local Schools Board of Education is considering implementing random drug testing for students participating in extra curriculars and students receiving parking permits.
During the TVCLS Board of Education meeting on Monday, Dec. 2, Superintendent Scott Cottingim presented the board with information on districts with policies in place and asked if they would like him to continue his research.
He explained, when he attended OSBA (Ohio School Board Association) Capital Conference he learned more information on drug testing and it “opened his eyes” to the number of districts in the area who are implementing drug testings in their schools.
“I’ve got a list here of schools who drug test across the State of Ohio using Great Lakes Biomedical. Last meeting, I talked about Eaton and Valley View who are neighboring schools who are currently drug testing for extra curriculars, co-curriculars, and parking permits. A lot of schools are heading that direction,” he said. “I have researched prices with Great Lakes Biomedical.
“I guess I am looking for direction from the school board. I’ve talked to our staff and informed them this is something we’re looking into. If this is something you would like me to continue looking into, I would like to have some public meetings just to get the views of the public and see what they think.”
A five panel test from Great Lakes Biomedical is approximately $15 per test. Cottingim explained, each panel is a different drug.
“Most schools only do the five panel test. Of course, there are more than just five drugs out there. What they typically do, they might test a certain three every time, and the last two are random. It is not always the same test,” he said.
Board member Christine Bitner liked the idea of getting input from the community before the board makes a decision, since this change would have a cost associated with it. She also asked if there was any way the district could use mental health monies to assist in the cost. She suggested looking into quotes from other testing companies as well.
Cottingim responded, “Absolutely. Before I get too far into it, I wanted to see if this is a direction we truly wanted to explore.”
“For myself, yes, but I am one person and I’m sure the community might want a little bit of input before we decide on something that is going to add an expense,” Bitner said. “Then we can go from there and make a decision on depth that we go — honestly, I don’t think we can afford to do the entire student body.”
Cottingim explained, the testing will be random so if there are 100 athletes, and the school wants to test 10 percent of them, that would only be 10 athletes receiving drug testing.
Vice-President Tim Beneke asked for clarification on who would be tested and suggested Cottingim look into the situation more.
Board member Jason DeLong said, “I’m still looking for a reason why we shouldn’t do this. As far as the dollars, I appreciate what Christine [Bitner] is saying as far as the survey, but I don’t think the dollars are an excuse to not do it. I think, having an extra layer for kids who are in the wrong place at the wrong time – some kids are going to do it if we test or not, but it creates a certain level of ability for a kid in the wrong place at the right time to say, ‘No, I don’t want to not play sports, I don’t want to not be able to park in the school lot, my dad will find out, my mom will find out.’”
Bitner expressed her worries about what happens after a student tests positive for a drug in their system.
“What are we going to do to support them and their families? Just because you have a teenager who experimented and boom, this time they got busted and it was the only time they ever did it and now they’re shamed or whatever happened, [how do] we make sure they can move past it and still be a productive athlete, student, and a productive citizen once they graduate. That is not going to follow them or be a stigma,” she said.
“If the board decides to do that, the community decides to do that, I’m all for it, as long as we really sit down and talk about what comes next.”
Cottingim responded, “We are in the business of teaching and having kids learn. You go back to why we discipline, it is so they can learn and not repeat that same thing. The drug testing would be another example where we would help the kid through the situation and hopefully they learn through the mistakes they made.”
DeLong agreed it’s a “multi layered process.”
“If any of us are thinking we need to do it to get kids in trouble, that is the wrong way of thinking,” he said.
Cottingim referred to the Athletic Code of Conduct.
“First offense is 25 percent of the season, in order to be reinstated they have to go to a professional and get counseled. Also to be reinstated, they have to do community service [at the school]. Those kids who do get in trouble, we don’t banish them, we bring them closer,” he said. “Kids make mistakes and we help them learn from those mistakes.”
The board agreed to have Cottingim continue his research and seek community input.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH