M-U plans random student drug testing

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — Milton-Union schools are moving forward with plans to implement random drug testing next year for students involved in athletics, academic clubs and other extra-curricular activities.

“We’re moving forward, and we feel positive about it,” Milton-Union schools superintendent Dr. Brad Ritchey said. “Miami East has been doing this for a couple of years now, Covington for a few years.”

Board members discussed the drug testing program Thursday, May 16, during a joint meeting that included the BOE, Union Township trustees and members of the West Milton village council. The meeting was held in the Lowry Learning Center at Milton-Union High School.

“The idea for us is to try to help,” Dr. Ritchey said. If there’s a circumstance where a student is really struggling with something, we want to kind of bring that out into the open at least to make sure there are one or two people at the school who know about it.”

“The intent here is to try and help children, not just to catch them,” he said.

BOE members are still working out the program’s details, including testing procedures and setting penalties for students who fail a test. “The lab that we’re going to use has partnered with more than 100 school districts across the state,” Dr. Ritchey said.

“We would use a random number generator, and then just randomly select kids who would be tested,” he said. It’s going to be totally secret, in the sense that we’re not going to warn anybody.”

The district will cover the program’s cost, so that students will not have to pay for the drug tests unless they fail. “Families wouldn’t end up paying for it unless you tested positive,” Dr. Ritchey said. “In those cases, where there’s been a positive test there’s re-testing that is required. It would be at the expense of the parent or caregiver.”

“We’re still working out what happens the first time, what happens the second time and what happens the third time,” he said. “We’ll revisit that topic at our fall athletic meeting with parents in August; that will give people a chance to ask questions.”

In other business, BOE members also heard an update from West Milton Municipal Manager Matt Kline, who discussed upcoming construction projects. “Our major infrastructure project for this year is the Stillwater/Market/Jay intersection,” Kline said. “We have a pre-construction meeting next week.”