BRECKSVILLE, OH -- Students participating in sports or extracurricular activities in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights School District could possibly have to submit to random drug tests in the future.
A “Policy and Procedure for Random Drug Testing” was posted on the district's website and discussed at the school board meeting Monday night.
The board emphasized that the policy was in the very earliest stages of consideration and that it would not be voted on without more public input and focus groups. Still, roughly 50 people, mostly parents, attended the meeting to learn more about the policy and to voice their concerns.
One mother said bluntly, “I’m here to tell you that as a parent, I don’t want my child tested.”
The overwhelming majority of parents at the meeting opposed the plan for a number of reasons. Some parents said the plan would infringe upon their rights as a parent. They also expressed concerns that “only the athletes and active students” would be tested. They feel that those students are less likely to use drugs.
One father said he would worry that a teenager might get a false positive or they might make a stupid mistake that would be on record and could impact them down the road, even though the results are supposed to remain private.
“Security of the information,” said Dan Lydey. “We all know bureaucracies aren’t perfect.”
The proposed policy was drafted by the Community Awareness and Prevention Association, or CAPA, and was recommended to them by a handful of students along with educators and local leaders.
“There is the perception among some students that this would be a beneficial thing to have,” said School Board President and Attorney David Tryon.
Supporters say the testing would give kids who are dealing with peer pressure an excuse not to use drugs or alcohol and believe it could help students who might have a problem with substance abuse.
Although the district was unable to offer any statistics of a drug problem at the high school, Attorney Tryon said, “We know in every district, there are some kids that are misusing some drug of some type at some time.”
But parents said they already have drug dogs and cameras at the school and they worry that their children might feel violated by having to take the random tests throughout the school year.
“I read each step to him (son) and he said ‘I would feel like a criminal' and he got emotional,” said Patti Hedrick, whose son is an honors student.
The parents would also have to pay for the testing and some felt the money could be better spent on a more positive program at the school.
This was just the first of many discussions on the issue. The board said they will not vote on the proposal until there are focus groups and many more meetings with parents, students and the community.
“We have good kids here and to just treat them all as criminals, I would really need a good reason. I don’t think anybody gave me one,” said Erin Nowjack, a mother.