Students' and parents' initial reactions range from very positive to very concerned
The announcement came out of left field: Three local private high schools are instituting mandatory drugs tests.
"Initially I questioned it, can they even do this? Is this legal?" mother Laura Hall said. Her son is a junior at St. Edward High School, one of the three schools that will begin the new drug testing policy in the fall, along with St. Ignatius and Gilmour Academy.
"I was a little surprised. We didn't see it coming," St. Edward senior Connor Pisco said.
Students' and parents' initial reactions range from very positive to very concerned, and some are right down the middle. Most of them just never anticipated this happening in their school.
"It's just kinda shocking to do it just all of a sudden, and that's not something you'd see every day in school," St. Edward senior Gavin Bridegum said.
That's exactly why some parents are raising an eyebrow -- they feel like the school is taking away their job.
"In terms of a privacy issue, I think it might be a little bit too much," Diane Erny said.
"I am anticipating a lot of dialogue. I think there will be some anxiety," Hall said.
That dialogue has already begun with a lot of parents embracing the new policy: a hair test for drugs with no punishment if it comes out positive, just counselors and the student's parents are made aware.
"When you have a school with a thousand people in it, I'm sure there are some problems we don't know about, and we're just looking to help the kids that need the help," St. Edward Athletic Director Paul Michalko said.
Many students are taking a reasonable approach.
"As long as you're not doing drugs, it's not an issue," Bridegum said. "It's like one piece of hair, it's not that invasive or anything. It's not a blood test."
He said a lot of students do have an issue with it, even though they've been given the summer to prepare for the drug tests. Their parents see the need but also want some answers.
"Where it's coming from and why?" Erny said.
"I would like to learn about how are we assured that tests are done accurately," Hall said. "I do think there will be concern. I would hope parents come together and look at this as opportunity to support the kids in making better choices at least until they're of age."
The schools chose the hair test because they say it is the most accurate and detects several different types of drugs.
Vermilion has been drug testing students since 2012.