New drug testing policy implemented

Outside+the+Bel+Air+Harford+County+Sheriff%27s+Department+precinct+is+a+sign+that+displays+the+current+number+of+overdoses+and+deaths+by+heroin+in+Harford+County.+The+new+drug+testing+policy+was+implemented+in+response+to+the+drug+epidemic+in+the+county.+

Caroline Cooney

Outside the Bel Air Harford County Sheriff’s Department precinct is a sign that displays the current number of overdoses and deaths by heroin in Harford County. The new drug testing policy was implemented in response to the drug epidemic in the county.

A new policy has been implemented that allows the administration to perform random drug toxiology screenings on students.  

Any student suspected of being under the influence of drugs on school property can be screened by the school, but administrators will also be conducting random drug tests throughout the school year. According to the Student Handbook, “Students will be randomly selected by computer to be drug tested. Students who are selected are placed back in the pool of students who can be selected again.”

Selected students will undergo a FDA-approved drug test administered by school nurse Michelle Webster. Students who fail the initial drug screening will be sent to the Harford County Health Clinic for a confirmation test. “We will require lab testing within 24 hours to confirm the positive result and to determine substance abuse levels,” the Student Handbook states. According to Vice Principal of Student Affairs and Technology Brian Powell, the school will pay for both tests.

Students who fail both screenings will be required to complete a treatment program offered by the school. “If there are students who are using [drugs] and they are discovered, they will enter our rehabilitation program,” Powell said.

When students are tested, their parents will be required to release the test results to the school in order for administrators to access them. “If a parent isn’t willing to share that information with us it would go to the principal and we’d have to figure out if JC is the best place for that student,” Powell said.

According to Powell, the policy was a response to the drug problem facing Harford County. Aspects of this policy, including the treatment program, were developed in the hopes that the school can help keep students healthy and safe as well as influence students to make positive choices in their lives. “People are using drugs in ways that are hurting a lot of families and destroying a lot of lives, so we feel we need to do everything within our power to set our students up for success. We have our drug and alcohol policy, but this is a drug use prevention policy,” Powell said.

While administrators hope this will deter students from starting drug use and make current drug users more hesitant to continue, students don’t necessarily agree. “I personally have no problems with it. Stay clean, it’s not hard,” one senior said. “I don’t think it’s going to deter people though. People are going to do whatever they want to do.”

Other students don’t agree with the randomness of the drug tests either. “It’s stupid that we are [randomly drug tested]. We shouldn’t have to be tested unless they think we’re under the influence,” one junior said.

Randomized drug testing has not yet begun, and the school will be having an assembly on drugs and alcohol in October. “I’m not going to tell you exactly when random drug testing will begin, but [it will be soon],” Powell said.

Grace Mottley is the Assignment Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.