XENIA — The Xenia Community School District Board of Education is considering implementing drug testing for students in extracurricular activities.
Board members began what is likely to be a long process by hearing from a panel of experts during a work session Monday. Board members stressed that a decision is not imminent and that they are just in a fact-finding stage.
“We’re not rushing to make a judgment,” Dr. Pam Callahan said.
The panel included Capt. Scott Anger from the county ACE Task Force, Xenia Police Capt. Dean Dean Margioras, Juvenile Court Judge Adolfo Tornichio and Magistrate/Court Administrator Amy Lewis, Patrick Dubbs, superintendent of Wayne Local Schools in Waynesville, Joseph Scholler, the district’s legal counsel, and Kyle Prueter, president of Great Lakes Biomedical, which performs drug testing at 160 Ohio schools.
The purpose was to gather information that is pertinent to determining whether drug testing is appropriate in Xenia.
Anger provided an updated on what types of drugs are being abused in the the county, while Margioras explained his role as the district’s school resource officer.
“Anything you see nationally you will see in Xenia,” Anger said. “Xenia is no different than anywhere else in the nation.”
Margioras said on average there are between 5-7 incidents at the high school and around five at Warner that require his involvement. He said marijuana is the main drug encountered but that there are cases of prescription pills — such as those for ADHD — being passed around or sold. There was one instance where a student took prescription adderall and another drug and had a heart rate of 155 beats per minute, prompting a trip to the ER.
“We don’t have this problem every day,” Margioras said.
Tornichio and Lewis provided the number of Xenia kids passing through the court’s diversion program for first-time offenders — 38 of 145 total cases from 2015-18.
Dubbs gave an overview of his district’s policy but stressed to board members that if they decide to move forward they should draft a policy that works for Xenia and not base it on other districts. Dubbs, the superintendent for 12 years, also said the testing program is not meant to be a “gotcha” and that results are not turned over to law enforcement officials unless its a felony.
Scholler told board members that such drug testing policies are legal because having drug free schools outweighs privacy. He cited the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Case Veronia School District v. Acton in which the court ruled 6-3 that drug testing is legal.
Prueter gave an overview of his company which tests 160 Ohio schools. He reiterated that it’s not a “gotcha” program but more of an intervention opportunity. His costs are based on how many panels are tested, calling it “cafeteria style.”
About 10 residents attended and two expressed opinions about drug testing during a public comment portion.
Michael K. Murray said the program is proved and working and “we can jump right in and make this work.”
Gary Henry, who will be a junior at the high school said he was “shocked” to find out the board was entertaining the idea of drug testing. He said there are a lot of students he knows who smoke and vape in the bathrooms.
“You can’t even see the toilet half the time,” Henry said.
Henry said some students say they smoke because there is nothing to do and suggested using the money that would be spent on drug testing to implement more programs.
Board members are expected to discuss the matter again at their board meeting, 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.