CINCINNATI - The killing of a La Salle High School student in a drug deal speeded up the implementation of drug testing at the all-boys Catholic school, 9 On Your Side’s Tom McKee reported.
Police say Justin Brown, 17, and three other La Salle students attempted to buy marijuana from Dierres Lee in the West End last March.
Investigators said Lee, 19, shot at the students’ vehicle after realizing they gave him fake money. Brown was struck in the head while in the passenger seat, according to police.
Lee’s case has been continued to Dec. 19.
But La Salle’s drug testing program had been in the works for years before that tragedy, McKee reported.
Mandatory testing begins in the 2014-2015 school year. Voluntary testing is being done this school year.
Drug prevention is the main goal, but LaSalle principal Tom Luebbe pointed out that the program gives students a second chance.
"Those who do test positive, it gives them a chance to be intervened,” Luebbe said. “Give them the counseling, the intervention they need to back off that path of destruction they were headed down."
Read the principal's letter to parents at http://www.lasallehs.net/s/1274/index-nav.aspx?sid=1274&gid=1&pgid=1382
One question is whether a program that works in school translates to times teenagers aren't in class. Green Township Police Chief Bart West believes it will.
"When students face pressure when somebody asks them to use drugs, they're going to remember that they're going to face a drug test at some point in the school year, and I think it will be effective," West said.
La Salle will be just the second high school in Ohio to require students to undergo drug tests.
Students pay $60 per test.
Hair samples will be used to screen for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and PCP.
A school nurse will clip a small hair sample about the size of lead in a pencil.
Optional alcohol testing comes with an additional fee.
All students will be tested in the first semester. A random sample will get another free test in the second semester.
A positive test means intervention and retesting approximately 100 days later.
Refusal to be tested means the same as a failed test.
Students will start the 2014-15 school year "with a clean slate."
Beginning next school year, a second positive test means expulsion – no exceptions.
"I wish this would have been in effect years ago,” said parent Nancy Kah. “I think it would be great for all the schools to follow suit. It will keep these boys safe and keep their minds clear."
Her son, Andy Kah, a La Salle junior, said he doesn't have a problem with drug testing at school.
"At first when I heard about it, I was a little surprised. It took me a little off guard,” he said. “After hearing some of the specifics of the plan, I think I really grew to embrace it. I think it definitely promotes a positive environment for all the students here."
The school is partnering with the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati to implement the program.
The Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati will add components of drug prevention to the curriculum, said Mary Haag, President/CEO/Executive Director.
"It's not just health class,” Haag said. “There are opportunities to provide curriculum in chemistry class or biology class, such as the neurobiology of addiction. Building skills. Refusal skills. Education."
La Salle answers FAQs at http://www.lasallehs.net/s/1274/index-nav.aspx?sid=1274&gid=1&pgid=1385
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Bob is highlighting what's working and what needs fixing from preschools to doctoral programs. A Cincinnati native, Bob was previously a regular contributor to the New York Times and was a staff reporter on many beats through 10 years at the Cincinnati Post and Kentucky Post newspapers.