VALPARAISO | Random drug testing for high school students involved in extracurricular activities or those who have school parking permits could begin in the fall if the Valparaiso Community Schools Board approves a proposal presented Tuesday.
Superintendent Mike Berta is recommending the board adopt the proposal, which he said is a proactive way to respond to student drug use discovered through the voluntary Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Survey.
Results of that survey show Valparaiso High School senior students use alcohol, marijuana and binge drink at higher rates than the state and national average.
“That data is very compelling to me, and it should be to you,” Berta said.
He said the program is not meant to punish students, but rather to educate them about the dangers of drug use and equip them with the skills to say no.
The program also is not meant to be a “silver bullet,” but will be used in conjunction with other school initiatives to combat student drug and alcohol abuse.
“Alone, this proposal is minimal, but combined with others, it is formidable,” Berta said.
About 45 to 50 percent of the Valparaiso High School student body will be in the drug testing pool. About 25 students are expected to be tested each month through either a urine or hair sample.
Students who fail the drug test must complete an eight-week drug and alcohol after-school program and will receive a 45-day suspension of their parking permit.
Second-time offenders will be ordered to complete a community-based drug and alcohol program at their own expense, with another 45-day parking permit suspension.
Third-time offenders will receive a suspension of their parking permit for the remainder of the school year and will be forbidden to participate in any extracurricular activities.
Berta said he's confident there will be enough financial support to launch the program, and the goal is to eventually take it to the middle schools.
The board agreed to continue the discussion at its meeting at 6 p.m. April 2 at the Valparaiso Community Schools Administration Building on Campbell Street.