ME considers random drug test policy

Covington Schools sees zero positive results last year

By Melanie Yingst -

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami East Local School Board will vote to conduct random drug tests on students in grades 7-12 who are involved in extra-curricular activities at its regular board meeting on Monday.

The meeting will be held at the high school lecture hall at 7 p.m.

According to the board agenda, the policy states the district will drug test “selected student athletes, students who participate in extra-curricular activities and students who, along with consent from their parents, agree to be tested, for inclusion in the testing pool.”

Superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said the policy is to have the district’s students “give pause” prior to engaging in drinking or drug use. Dr. Rappold also said the community feedback has been supportive since the discussion of implementing a pilot drug testing program began in May. If passed, all students and parents must sign a random drug test consent form or they will not be eligible to participate in the extra-curricular activities.

The Covington Exempted Village School District is the only school district in Miami County that currently has a drug testing policy in place. The Covington school district finished its first full year of its drug testing policy this spring with zero positive test results, according to school officials.

The Covington Local School district spent $1,410 on random student drug testing through Great Lakes Biomedical for the 2015-2016 year, according to Superintendent Gene Gooding. Drug test costs range from $15 to $20 per test depending on the number of panels or specific drug screen selected. The cost of the computer generated random test pool, collection, testing, review and reporting of results is included in the drug test costs, according to the contract.

“Overall, I was very pleased with the implementation of the drug testing policy. We were able to conduct the tests with very little educational time lost, and our students were extremely cooperative,” Gooding said last week. “We have great students at Covington and I am very proud that we had zero positive drug tests throughout the school year. If this policy helped one student refuse to try, or take drugs, it has been a success.”

Gooding said the majority of the questions he received was on how students were selected and how privacy is maintained through the process.

Covington Schools has approximately 375 students in grades 7-12. Covington’s random drug testing policy includes students who are involved in athletics, participate in extra- or co-curricular activities, or if they drive to school. Gooding said the high school principal was the contact for the Great Lakes Biomedical Company for test dates and results. The students completed the drug testing procedure in a private staff restroom.

Gooding reported to the Covington school district’s zero positive results at its school board meeting on Thursday.

“Our goal was to get it right, be discreet and private at all times,” said Gooding on Thursday. “We are extremely happy none of our students tested positive for drugs. We were able to have a year where the policy was in place and our great kids came in and every one of them tested negative for drugs.”

Miami East officials would select one person in the district who would be notified of the day and time of the random screening. All drug screens will be held in the district’s clinic areas for privacy. No advance notice of the testing would be given. A refusal to do the test would be an automatic positive.

Great Lakes Biomedical, the company conducting the tests, uses a computer-generated random number draw to select students to be tested on-site. Students may be tested more than once per season or school year. If a student participates in a fall sport and is tested in the spring and fails the test, the district would implement its discipline plan the next time the student participates in the sport or activity.

A copy of the Miami East Local Schools drug testing policy can be found online at
Covington Schools sees zero positive results last year

By Melanie Yingst