Mandatory drug testing decision still to be made


Anna Minton


Decisions regarding implementing random, mandatory drug testing for students participating in competitive, extracurricular activities are still under discussion, and most likely will be until August of 2017, according to Principal Matt Durst.

“I don’t know that there is a timeline for it, but I don’t think that there is a real interest in starting a new policy during the school year,” said Durst. “We’ve not made a decision on testing, school starts Wednesday, it’s not going to happen this year. If it’s decided that it’s going to happen, then I think the goal would be that we start it at the start of next school year, August of 2017.”

While decisions are still being made, Durst is confident that measures to reduce substance abuse at the high school will come into effect in the near future.

“The board is definitely interested in the idea or in the desire to reduce the use of substance abuse amongst our students,” said Durst. “The big question is how.”

The idea of mandatory random drug tests has gained a lot of support from the community: according to the Granville Sentinel, 72% of attendees at the Granville Board of Education meeting on June 15th said that they supported the idea of drug testing at the high school level.

“Here’s the thought process behind it: If it’s mandatory for all of the students who participate in competitive extracurriculars, If 75% of students participate in extracurricular, than all 100% of the 75% get put into the pool for testing,” explained Durst. “I think that that’s beneficial for a student because if I’m at a party as student on a Friday, and I know that I might get tested on Monday, then I can look at my buddy who has no interest in extracurriculars and won’t get tested, and say to him that I’m not going to jeopardize my athletics, or my theater, just by drinking this or smoking this.”

Durst believes that mandatory drug testing will not only allow us to see what students are already abusing drugs and alcohol, but also give other students an excuse to not participate in substance abuse.

“So, I like it because it gives the students an out, a way to say ‘you know, I can’t do that because I might get tested’,” said Durst. “Because what happens if they get tested Monday and they’re positive? Then all of a sudden they are losing some of their participation in whatever the extracurricular it is that they like.”

While mandatory drug testing may be a step in the right direction, but they are not the complete solution, according to Durst.

“It’s not a slam dunk case, where you can say “oh yes, this is perfect for us, and it’s going to solve all our problems’,” said Durst “Substance abuse is much more complicated than that.”

Durst believes that in order to solve the substance abuse issue at GHS, there needs to be more to their strategy than just testing. He is encouraging drug and alcohol abuse curriculums that start in the elementary school, and are repeated each year up until students graduate. He also is calling for more support regarding mental health and anxiety disorders for students.

“We’ve started with testing, but then they (the Board of Education) realized that this is really a much broader question,” said Durst. “The testing could be a component to our approach for substance abuse, but it’s never going to be just the one thing we do.”