Avon schools launch random drug testing for athletes, drivers

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AVON, Ohio- After more than a year of research and discussions, the Avon Local School District will begin implementing a new drug testing policy this school year.

All students, in grades seven through 12, who are participating in sports or any other extracurricular activity will be subject to random drug screenings.

Great Lakes Biomedical Services will be in charge of the random selection process and perform the five-panel screenings to include drugs like marijuana and heroin. However, the district will have the flexibility to pick which drugs based on information from law enforcement.

“So if police say this drug or that is becoming more popular, then we can add that to the test to change it up a bit,” said Erich Frombach, Avon Athletic Director.

Frombach was instrumental in bringing the policy to Avon after witnessing a rise in young people overdosing on heroin in Lorain County, and the increase in peer pressure linked to new designer drugs like Flakka, Special K and bath salts.

He said they aren’t trying to hurt kids, rather give them an “out” and an excuse “to say no” if they are feeling pressured by friends.

Frombach and other school leaders researched and met with several other school districts in preparation for the new program.

Some parts are similar, like allowing parents to request a screening, but there are differences. Avon student drivers who have a permit to park on the premises in the high school lot will also be drug tested.

“When you think about it, when kids bring illegal substances to school they’re in their car,”  Frombach said, “so we want to make sure everybody’s safe and doing the right thing.”

Students will also get a one-time pass to skip the test without consequences if they tell someone before being randomly selected. And if a student does test positive, they will face some suspension time from the extracurricular activity and intervention counseling, but it will not impact them academically.

“We have great kids, we love our kids,” Frombach said. “This is no zero-tolerance policy. We’re trying to help these kids.”

A meeting was held for parents Sunday and the topic was also discussed at freshman orientation Monday night. The testing and program will begin in September and then be re-evaluated in May.

So far parents seem OK with the idea once they learned security measures are in place to protect their child’s identity and privacy with the company and during sample collections.

“Overall, I’m still learning about it,” said mom Larissa Bungo, “But I don’t have an objection to it.”

Parents are encouraged to contact the district with any concerns and questions.

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