Plainwell Schools considers drug testing students

Allegan County

PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Plainwell Community Schools is thinking about requiring random drug testing for high school students who participate in extracurricular activities.

The proposed plan would implement random testing of students who participate in sports, club activities, National Honor Society and musicals. The district would randomly test 10% of the students who participate in those programs, which is about 350 kids.

The test is a five-panel test that costs about $5. It looks for nicotine, THC, opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine.

The test would be overseen by the districts’ athletic trainer, who is hospital certified. A decision on the proposal is expected to be decided at the next school board meeting on Nov. 18.

Plainwell, a school district of more than 2,700 students, is dealing with the same issue as other districts.

“Like a lot of other districts in the state and really in the nation, we’ve seen an uptick in drug use, particularly in vapes. Vaping has just kind of taken over school districts,” Superintendent Matthew Montange said.

If they were randomly drug tested (positive) we would meet with the family and the student has the option to a drug information course.”

The student would also lose 25% of playing time for the season, but they can still be on the team and practice.

“The main thing is making sure that the student and the parents have the resources they need to make sure they are monitoring this and helping their student,” Montange said.

School drug testing is common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who say 38% of school districts nationwide use this type of testing.

In Michigan, Watervilet Public Schools have been using random drug testing since 2016.

Student drug testing was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union in a 2002 U.S. Supreme court case where the conservative majority declared this kind of drug testing constitutional.

A 2003 University of Michigan study found no significant impact of school drug tests on students. Other studies have found moderate impacts.

The Plainwell superintendent says the point of this program is not to punish but to connect parents with resources and to help students cope.

“A student athlete has the ability to say I can’t do that because I’m going be tested and that gives them another tool to deal with peer pressure,” Montange said.

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