To test or not to test? Random drug testing being discussed for first time in Medina school district

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MEDINA, Ohio-- Students participating in extracurricular activities in Medina may eventually be required to participate in random drug testing.

Athletic Director Jeff Harrison started the conversation before members of the district's school board.

Harrison said the district has roughly 2,400 students, more than 600 of whom participate in some form of competitive extracurricular activities.

"That's a large segment of our student population and when they do choose to participate in those extracurricular activities, they are held to a higher standard. They wear Medina across their chest. They represent us on the basketball court or in a stadium, so we do hold them to a higher standard," said Harrison.

And he said the vast majority of those students who participate in extracurricular activities want their team to have a positive reputation. "The opinion of the student-athletes and the parents of those student-athletes that would be directly involved, I weigh their opinion very heavily because they are the ones that are directly involved in it," said Harrison.

He said the idea of randomly drug testing those students is not new.

At least 70 school districts that he is aware of around the state already have such a policy.

Harrison also said having a random drug testing policy also gives students an "out"  when they are subjected to peer pressure when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

"We have a drug problem like every other high school has a drug problem; ours isn't unique, but when you are dealing with adolescence, there are times where they are caught in situations that may not be the best and we are looking to give them an out," Harrison said. "We want to give them a tool so that when they are caught in a situation where they may be feeling or have perceived peer pressure- give them an out, a tool to say, 'I can't do it;' I could be subject to random drug testing because I'm on the basketball team or the soccer team," he added.

Harrison has already reached out to athletic directors from several school districts that have such a policy to learn from their experience.

"I have listened to the pitfalls and the concerns, and I have listened to the positive feedback they have given.  It has made many of the student athletes welcome it [drug testing] because they want to protect themselves and their teammates and don't want to be on a team with someone when they are putting in so much work and someone may be doing things that aren't appropriate," Harrison said.

He said the next step will be to solicit input from students, parents, and from the community, understanding that the subject can be extremely polarizing.  Most people either strongly oppose or strongly support it.

The subject has already generated very strong opionion on social media.

Within the school, however, Harrison said the feedback has been overwhelmingly supportive.​