Athletic Department Taking Closer Look at Drug Testing
Written by Nancy Bowman
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 04:29
Requests from coaches, parents and Athletic Boosters have the Tipp City schools taking a close look at possible drug testing of athletes.
Schools Athletic Director Matt Shomper talked with the Board of Education on June 25 about plans to explore a possible drug-testing program. If approved by the board, it would go into effect in the 2013-14 school year.
Shomper said most coaches and parents he’s talked with “would like to really strengthen our policy.”
There is a “pretty strong feeling” among those people “that we do have some pretty substantial issues with drug and alcohol among our high school students,” he said.
Among the goals of a stronger policy would be “to try to get them to think twice,” he said of students.
When he discussed concerns with the athletic boosters, the question was why the district doesn’t test, Shomper said.
He said he first thinks testing needs to be researched so the district has “its duck in a row” if a testing program is to be implemented.
One school in the Central Buckeye Conference – Kenton Ridge – has had a drug-testing program for seven years.
Shomper said he has talked with that district’s athletic director and plans to talk with him more. In addition, he plans to talk with testing companies at upcoming conferences.
Shomper said the people at Kenton Ridge schools believe their testing program has been extremely successful. That district has the same three-step disciplinary process followed by the Tipp City schools.
The difference in the two programs is the testing in Kenton Ridge. Today, the local schools have to rely on hearsay or police reports in identifying a problem, Shomper said.
The Kenton Ridge policy requires all students who want to participate in athletics to undergo a drug test.
The cost of the initial test – around $30 – is added to the district’s pay to participate fee. Once testing is done, students then enter the pool for monthly random testing of 10 percent of athletes. The cost of that testing for 14 different substances is covered by the district.
Shomper said the Kenton Ridge policy differs from Tipp City’s in the definition of possession. The definition expands a policy violation beyond using, drinking or holding a substance to being around those who are using or drinking. The policy allows the student reasonable time to react such as calling for a ride or leaving a party where drugs or alcohol are in use, he said.
A board member questioned the legality of that definition. Superintendent John Kronour said that the testing policy would be part of overall policies students voluntarily sign off on to participate in a sport.
Shomper said supporters of testing indicated they want the policy to be “the biggest deterrent” that it can.
The biggest drug problems experienced with students involve marijuana and alcohol, he said.
Asked what student reaction to possible testing has been, Shomper said the discussion came up at the end of the school year so he hasn’t had a chance to talk with student athletes.
He said he would like to develop a survey for student athletes and their parents regarding testing. Part of the survey goal would be to see if they think drug and alcohol use is as big of a problem as coaches and others believe.
Kronour said he thinks the students have acknowledged problems with substance use. He pointed to a student request for use of breathalyzers at school dances.
Shomper said his presentation was the beginning of a conversation. He hopes to collect information during the next school year to be prepared to make a recommendation to the board for the 2013-14 school year.
Kronour said he probably could add the drug testing as part of an administrative policy, but would want the board’s approval.