By Ann Marie Shambaugh
The Zionsville school board got one step closer to a vote on random drug testing for students at its April 13 meeting. Originally discussed nearly a year ago, board members decided to schedule a work session to hear from experts on both sides of the issue before taking a vote.
The idea of randomly drug testing students first came before the school board in May 2014. Board members discussed the issue and accepted public comments before tabling the issue a couple of months later.
School board president Shari Alexander Richey said she revived the discussion because she now believes that the district should pursue a more holistic approach and that random drug testing could encourage students to use drugs that wouldn’t necessarily show up on the standard test.
“Some experts will tell you that some students that are using drugs that are known to stay in the body may go to other drugs that are known to quickly leave the body,” Richey said in an email. “Thus, they will be less likely to be detected in a surprise urine sample. Further, those drugs can often be much more toxic, and thus more dangerous for the student to ingest.”
Other board members disagreed, stating that the random drug tests would give students a solid reason to turn down drugs of any kind.
“I’d like to get this in place to become a deterrent to stop the kids before they take a bite of the apple and not ever give them the chance to progress to something more harsh,” school board member Joe Stein said at the meeting.
ZCHS Principal Tim East told the board that after months of studying the issue, he is still in favor of random drug tests.
“This would act as a deterrent and help keep our kids safe,” he said, adding that ZCHS is the only school in its conference to not conduct random drug testing.
If the board votes to implement random drug testing, East said it would take four to six months to begin the tests at school. The work session had not been scheduled as of press time.