XENIA — Discussion surrounding the possible implementation of drug testing for students in extracurricular activities continued Aug. 12 at a Xenia Community School District Board of Education meeting.
The board indicated it is in the beginning stages of the process, and that more data and public input is needed before making a decision.
Gary Henry, an incoming junior at the high school, shared his concerns again during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“I believe this program is impractical,” Henry said, also citing academic articles per his research. “I believe that by implementing this policy, students who are deeply involved in extracurriculars, much like myself, will only be discouraged to do said activities due to extensive use of drug tests … You are threatening the future of our students.”
Henry argued that the board should focus its time and money elsewhere, specifically on facility repairs, adding more extracurriculars or languages to curriculum, or boosting the activities that already exist.
“Of many, many districts that have already participated in these programs, there has not really been decrease in participation in extracurricular activities,” board member Jennifer Marietta said later. “Most kids and parents opt into the program. I’m not saying necessarily that’s what Xenia will do but that hasn’t really been an issue in any of the research of drug testing programs — people still play and people still participate.”
Board members said next steps would include gathering more information — potential costs and hidden fees, number of students who participate in extracurriculars, if any nearby districts have similar programs, and taking surveys of students and parents.
“The concern that I’ve always had was this balance between what schools do and what homes do and to make sure that we don’t unnecessarily cross into the line … of the home,” board member Cheryl Marcus said. “I think that we ought to look at ways in which we include parents in this whole process before we arbitrarily pick it up.”
Marietta said the program must be multi-pronged, combined with other features, specifically improving school culture.
“A program of this nature could erode the climate of the students and the village, so I think we need to be mindful of that,” Marcus added. She also suggested that with the receipt of new state funds for health and wellness, the district could create a program teaching students how to make healthy choices.
Board members also discussed and questioned the potential logistics of the testing, indicating that it would involve random selection, require parental consent, and that a student involved in multiple extracurriculars would carry the same weight as a student involved in one activity. There could also be an opt-in option which would allow parents to opt their child into the program even if they were not involved in extracurriculars.
The board would have to decide certain scenarios — like if a student were randomly selected multiple times in a row, if that student would be tested redundantly or if the principal would have override powers.
“It’s important the randomization process is free of any bias or perception of bias,” Marcus said.
Board President Dr. Robert Dillaplain said the district’s current anti-drug program tools involve a combination of suspension, expulsion, drug dogs, D.A.R.E., and medical counseling.
The board holds its regular meetings 6:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at 819 Colorado Drive.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.