Addressing the Rumors: What to Know about Drug Testing

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Nour Lababede, News Editor

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In recent weeks, there have been many rumors going around Westlake High School after there was an announcement that there will be a new proposal for drug testing students. The Green and White interviewed Mr. Cipollone, the WHS Director of Athletics, to find out more about this case.

 

Green and White: There have been many rumors going around that the school will administer drug tests to students involved in various school activities. Is this true?

Mr. Cipollone: We are in the process of putting together a presentation for the board. It should happen sometime in January. But yes we are moving in that direction.

GW: Could you please go into detail as to who in specific will need to be tested and when?

Mr. Cipollone: Those are some of the details we are working out right now. In general, I’d say we are looking at testing our athletes, those with parking privileges, extracurricular activity members, and people involved with clubs and organizations.

In general, I’d say we are looking at testing our athletes, those with parking privileges, extracurricular activity members, and people involved with clubs and organizations.”

— Mr. Cipollone

GW: What is the reason or inspiration behind this sudden move to potentially test hundreds of students for drug use?

Mr. Cipollone: If you look at the statistics, especially in Northeast Ohio, I think that us as administrators and educators would be irresponsible if we didn’t try to attack this problem not only in our state and community but in our country. One of the statistics that jumped out at me when I was doing my research is that for every 100 residents of Cuyahoga county there are 60 painkiller prescriptions written. By drug testing, we’re not reinventing the wheel. Amherst does drug testing, Avon does drug testing, North Olmsted does drug testing, Saint Ed’s, Saint Ignatius…etc. So it’s not like we are doing something crazy out of the box. We are trying to prevent drugs and help students if we can.

 

GW: What type of drug testing will be used?

Mr. Cipollone: It’ll probably be a urine test at this point. There is a company that we identified that provides drug testing materials to many different school districts in Ohio. They’ve been doing it for about 20 years so they have a good protocol of how they do things, how they collect. There is still, as I said, a lot of details to be worked out. The idea with drug testing is not to catch people. The idea of drug testing is to deter people from making bad decisions. So if, for instance, four people next year end up at a party in somebody’s house and there are things there going on that shouldn’t be going on, they can use school administered drug testing as an ‘excuse’. They can say ‘Well hey you know I’m an athlete’ or ‘I have parking privileges, I can’t do that.’ It gives these students an out without having to think about it too much.

 

GW: Some people are concerned and think that testing so many students is unnecessary, as it may cause an unwanted amount of financial burden. How will the costs of these drug tests be covered?

Mr. Cipollone: At this point we’ve been looking at random as opposed to testing everybody. The proposal will most likely be that our board of education will finance testing. Now, I think we’ll also have an option where parents can opt their own kids into the test. If that option is taken then the parents will probably pay at least a portion. The tests are really not that expensive, probably $30 on the high end. Depending on what you’re testing for and those sort of things, the price can either get higher or lower. I would encourage all parents that have high school aged students to opt in. Personally, I would, as a parent of a high school kid myself, opt in because I think it’s important.

 

GW: Is there anything else you want students and their families to know about this situation?

Mr. Cipollone: School administered drug tests are not a penal thing. As we look at the discipline at the high school and the trends that are happening, kids have a lot of time and we want them to make positive decisions in that free time when they’re not supervised. I can coach the best guys when I’m watching but it’s about what they do when I’m not there; that is what determines who our best athletes are. It’s a question of what do you do when no one is watching, would you still continue to do the right thing? Would you stray off into places you shouldn’t be and do things that you shouldn’t be doing? We know we are not going to stop all drugs, I mean that’s just impossible, but there are statistics that show a good drug testing program can seriously drop the rates of people that are using drugs.

It’s a question of what do you do when no one is watching, would you still continue to do the right thing? Would you stray off into places you shouldn’t be and do things that you shouldn’t be doing?”

— Mr. Cipollone

GW: What advice would you give to students who encounter drugs in school?

Mr. Cipollone: I firmly believe that every kid knows the difference between right or wrong. If they know the difference between right and wrong, they know what the right choice is and they know what the wrong choice is. Someone that makes a wrong choice will have to face the consequences for that. We want our kids, and specifically from my standpoint, our student athletes, to make the right choices. If we can help ten kids a year make better choices, it’s worth every penny.

 

The Green and White would like to thank Mr. Cipollone for his time and the clarification on this issue. Drugs are a serious issue that should not be taken lightly, as taking them can have life threatening consequences. Remember to make smart choices and to stay away from harmful situations.

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