BOE considers random drug testing

Board hears various aspects of program

By Belinda M. Paschal -

PIQUA — Representatives from a Perrysburg drug testing company attended the Piqua City Schools Board of Education meeting on Thursday to give administrators an overview of their services, including the purpose of testing and the programs they offer.

“This is not a ‘gotcha’ program. It’s giving (students) one more reason to say ‘no,’” said Kyle Prueter, president of Great Lakes Biomedical.

Great Lakes, which specializes in student testing, has more than two decades in the business and works with between 130-140 schools in Ohio, according to Prueter. “Our purpose is prevention,” he said.

Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said the district has been discussing the possibility of random student drug testing and pre-employment testing for prospective hires for several months, but there has not yet been a definitive decision to implement a testing program.

Prueter explained that Great Lakes offers two types of drug testing programs: 1) random, in which students are chosen lottery-style by a random number generator; and 2) “draw the line” testing, which takes place on a designated date.

Though some might worry that “draw the line” testing would merely allow students to “clean themselves up” in time for the test, then fall back into their old habits afterward, Prueter said he also has seen students use this type of testing as a means of self-referral to get help, making it a resource to identify students who might have substance abuse problems.

“We don’t expect it to eradicate drug use in the school district,” he said, but noted that it would precipitate a “change in culture” in the schools.

Testing is anonymous and, “Nothing is ever reported to the police. It’s strictly confidential,” Prueter added.

The cost of the tests varies according to which substances are being tested for. For example, for $15 per test, a five-panel test will test for marijuana, cocaine and opiates, as well as two other substances of the district’s choosing.

There also are what Prueter called “add-ons,” like the EtG alcohol test, which, at $20 per test, does an 80-hour look-back to check for Ethyl Glucuronide, which in the body for three days after consuming alcohol.

Thompson said he would like to “put a timeline in place” to discuss the idea of testing with coaches and parents before making a decision. The board agreed. Thompson reiterated that they are not approving any kind of program at this time.

Later in the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Tony Lyons presented a bullying report, noting that reported incidents have increased from last year, which he attributed to increased awareness of the district’s online reporting system. Aside from four identifiable bullying situations, Lyons said most of the reports were situations that were able to be dealt with before they escalated into full-scale bullying issues.

Lyons also mentioned that the district is still in need of substitute bus drivers, food service workers and custodians. Those interested in any of these positions should contact Lyons at the Board of Education by calling (937) 773-4321. In addition, a civil service test will be offered at 6 p.m. Jan. 11, at the board offices, located at 719 E. Ash St.

In other business, the district recently purchased 36.2 acres of land near the high school and junior high at a cost of $10,078.42 per acre, for a total price of $365,000. The land will continue to be farmed and reserved for potential projects decades in the future.

Board hears various aspects of program

By Belinda M. Paschal

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at or (937) 451-3341

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at or (937) 451-3341