Ohio School Head Wants To Drug Test Every Student Through Company Where His Brother Is The President

A Deeper Look Inside Student Drug Testing - St Edwards Of Cleveland, Ohio

Why do schools drug test students? In one Ohio school, it is because the principal’s brother runs the Drug Testing company.

In recent years, moves by GOP legislatures and administrations to require welfare recipients have crashed and burned. Both in the courts, where their Constitutionality, amongst other things, has been questioned, and also in the results, where our nation’s poor have not been shown to be the drug abusing culture of filth that wealthier Americans thought and some seemingly wished they’d be. But the ugly head of constitutionally questionable random drug testing has reared its head in other places, like in schools. One recent story making headlines is in Ohio, where Cleveland’s St Edward High School recently announced that they would be instituting a random drug testing policy. The program is set to begin later this year in the fall.

The St Edward story stands out for a host of reasons, some positive, some not so positive.

On one hand, St Edward has tried to dodge the invasive and embarrassing method of extracting urine from suspected users; they have opted for a hair follicle test. That in itself has its own pros and cons. But for the most part, parents and officials have been applauded for their ability to look beyond the invasive and embarrassing urinalysis.

But before we even get to the tests themselves, like in the Florida welfare case, conflicts of interests have come up. It turns out, the President of the School is then brother of the President of the drug testing company, Psychemedics Corporation, whose website lists its location in Massachusetts, with its sales / marketing HQ’d in Dallas, Texas.

A school employee I spoke to (under the condition of anonymity) told me that the “school was upfront about the relationship between the Presidents.” Still, one has to wonder with all the companies out there, including ones that do hair testing, why create the conflict? And regardless of the transparency, do the parents really feel good that their dollars are going to profit the President’s brother when the school itself states that “it has no drug problem.” That means school spending an estimated 40 to 50 dollars per test for a problem that doesn’t exist, a classic “solution looking for a problem.”

Also, St Edward, as the employee pointed out, isn’t a public school, so “the rules are a little different.” And indeed they are. Even though the ultimate constitutional questions may not be answered, most people generally feel that a private institution can create their own standards and enforcement procedures, within reason.

Also, the school has insisted, and at least 4 students and others agree that this measure is not punitive, but the information gathered will only be used to seek help for the student, not jail.

But one has to wonder if the parents and faculty at St Edward aren’t putting irrational and erroneous fears ahead of more solid facts and precedent. Some questions that come to mind include:

  • Why do parents need the school to randomly test their children if so concerned? They’ve had the child’s whole life to take the initiative, but haven’t. But now it’s a good idea when the school does it?
  • If this is such a great idea, and not punitive … we know that often the kids learn from their parents, so where is the random parent testing program? After all, is there a limit to what we will do for our children? Oh, I guess there is … Is there a random teacher program as well? How bout a random school board and their families program?
  • Yes, the tests do screen for marijuana, cocaine, meth amphetamines and opiates including heroin and Oxycontin. But it doesn’t screen for many “alternative” drugs, some of which can be bought OTC like “rush” or nitrous oxide. Also it doesn’t test for many abused pills like Xanax (called zanny bars and the like). Also, it doesn’t test for the most regularly abused drugs at all, namely nicotine and alcohol. The latter is estimated to be used by about 36% of high school students compared to about 12% for those who will try a joint while in school. Is it worth it to stop a few joints from being smoked to have kids ginned up and on zanny bars?
  • It also doesn’t screen for the “other” class of drugs that are becoming more and more abused. Those being ones commonly prescribed for ADHD like Adderall, Ritalin and others. Of course, these drugs have been linked to higher test scores, so a cynic might think that maybe this wasn’t so much an oversight, eh?
  • Also, the Hair Tests are not considered reliable. Despite this company’s claims. Yes, it’s less invasive, as long as the student has an inch and a half of hair on its head. But what if they don’t?
  • The Hair Test also can allegedly detect chemicals up to 3 months after, so is that fair to the students? If someone had a puff of a joint 2 months ago, does finding that out 2 months later, especially if the student never did it again, serve any purpose but to embarrass the student or perhaps do damage to his future?
  • And of course, the program will have “exceptions” for prescribed medications, so if someone is prescribed a medication does that them give them de-facto immunity for up to 3 months? And this would be with the most dangerous drugs like heroin, Oxycontin and cocaine.

Add it all up, an unreliable test, conflicts of interests, constitutional grey areas, a promise (but no guarantees, none of the statements are legally binding) of no punitive measures, an incomplete screening which leaves out the most abused drugs and allowing the school to “parent” for the parents + other questions … the parents may want to reconsider their rush to judgment here.

The St Edward people will counter, one might speculate,  that they are a private school, they were up front about all relationships, and they are doing this as a preventative and helpful tool, not as a punishing one and they are using a less invasive test that at least 4 kids are gung ho about. Is that enough? Is this what our kids deserve, or do they deserve better practices and judgment from those in charge?

But ultimately it is about the parents and not only what lessons they want to teach to their children, but how their dollars are being spent by the school. Are they going to be spent on education or unnecessary drug tests?

Don’t be surprised if next fall when this program goes live, that there isn’t a rash of shaved headed kids on Jack Daniels and Xanax. But don’t worry; they will be sure to pop a couple of Adderall before the big test.

With all these great values being passed down like a brown bagged bottle of Ripple, the only question that remains is where do I find the parent of the year applications so I can start nominating these parents before another moment goes to waste?

Correction: Originally we had reported the schools name as St Edwards, when it is properly St Edward. We apologize for this error. In addition, a faculty member pointed out that two other schools are involved, who would have chosen the same company on their own without any input from St Edwards or its faculty.