St. James Academy High School is a private Catholic school located in Johnson County, KS that is pursuing a drug-free environment for learning. As part of its health and wellness program, the school performs random drug and alcohol testing on its students. The school works in partnership with parents so they feel informed and involved in the administration of the program.
According to its policy, the school “reserves the right to ask any student to comply with an alcohol test or urine screen at any time if the administration determines there is reasonable cause.” The policy also states specific consequences for policy violations such as the possession, use, and/or sale of drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol on school property, at school activities, and at student-hosted parties.
“St. James wants to protect the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of its students. Along with random testing, the school builds awareness of the impacts and dangers of drug and alcohol use through presentations by the local police department about alcohol, prescription, and over-the-counter drug abuse while training teachers, coaches, and administrators to identify when a student may have a problem. The school continually analyzes the effectiveness of its drug testing program and believes that just having random testing in place can help some students combat peer pressure,” said John Muehlberger, Dean of Students at St. James Academy.
Many adults who grapple with substance abuse started using drugs and alcohol in high school. According to the annual Monitoring the Future survey, 39 percent of U.S. 12th grade students surveyed reported using an illicit drug in the past 12 months. Even more startling is the survey data indicating that one in every 16 or 17 high school seniors smoke marijuana daily or near daily.
A study by the U.S. Department of Education showed students subjected to school-based mandatory random drug testing reported less substance use than students in high schools without a program. This is also true of workplace random drug testing where the possibility of unannounced drug testing can deter use.
Schools and employers can include random drug and alcohol testing in their workplace policies and wellness initiatives to discourage drug use and encourage early intervention and opportunities for assistance. A clear, well-written policy outlining student and employee expectations and penalties for drug use is fundamental to a program’s success.
Photo courtesy of St. James Academy