A Catholic high school in Ohio has announced that in January, it will begin randomly testing its students for drugs and nicotine at least once a year. The new drug testing program is implemented by administrators at Stephen T. Badin High School in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in Hamilton, Ohio in an effort to discourage drug use and vaping.
“Given the great pressure our students face, now is the time to take an even more aggressive stance against the threat of drug use… The impact of drug use on young students and their families is staggering and our community is not immune to this issue,”stated within the letter sent to parents by the school’s administration.
The drug policy at the school is mandatory, with tests to be counted as positive if a student refuses to be tested. Although there will be no punishment for first-time offenders, the school said it will inform the student, as well as their parents or guardians, and if necessary, engage medical or counseling personnel with the parents’ permission.
In contrast, a second offense will result in disciplinary action, which, according to the school’s administration, will depend on the circumstances and the student’s record. According to the letter sent to parents, incurring more than one offense could “jeopardize the student’s enrollment at the school and could result in dismissal.”
Badin High School has a coeducational enrollment of 622 students. According to a statement released by Jennifer Schack, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, decisions regarding drug-testing policies were made at the local level. “The individual school administration and board decide if drug testing is a policy they want to enact,” said Schack in the statement.
In his interview with the New York Times, David Bloomfield, an education law professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, said that the school is « largely within its rights » to implement such a policy, since private schools control their own enrollment.
“The well-known public school standard for a search is reasonable suspicion; here it’s just suspicion. That could be a whim or a hunch, without any real tangible basis…That could be a legal problem when it’s discriminatory enforcement,”David Bloomfield, education law professor at Brooklyn College
However, Bloomfield also expressed concern of legal consequences arising if the school begins to disproportionately test one group of students over another, potentially resulting in “arbitrary enforcement and harassment” of marginalized students who may become most affected by the policy.