Lake Highland Prep to test students for drugs

Orlando school outlines program in letter to parents

ORLANDO, Fla. - According to a new policy at Lake Highland Preparatory School, all students in grades 7-12 will undergo random drug testing beginning next school year.

Warren Hudson, the president of the private school, told Local 6 the drug-testing policy was carefully crafted, taking into account advice from other schools that use the testing.

The testing, which costs $39 per student for 1,200 students, will be funded by an anonymous donor for the 2013-2014 school year. After next year it's not clear who will pay for the testing.

Hudson says the testing plan is not a response to one incident, but the often unspoken knowledge that students are experimenting with drugs.

In a letter to parents dated April 26, Hudson outlines the plan, which requires each student to submit a hair sample at the beginning of the school year. The sample will be sent off to Psychemedics and be tested for 18 illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and prescription pain killers.

If a student tests positive once, an administrator will meet with their family and provide them resources for drug treatment, according to the school's letter to parents. Then they'll be tested 100 days later and if they test positive again, they'll be asked to leave the school.

"A second positive is quite serious and would be a clear indication that we, as a school, are not staffed or equipped to help the student and family," wrote Hudson.

Local 6 spoke to some parents and the majority seemed to be in favor for the mandatory testing.

"Anything we can do that can help our students and our parents control the drug problem then I'm all for it," said Melissa Phillips, who has two sons at Lake Highland Prep.

Hudson says the plan will also arm students with an excuse to give peers who may be pressuring them to try drugs.

"They can say 'I'm sorry I can't do that because my school tests they'll find out,'" Hudson said.

Some students say they think the random testing is too intrusive.

"I also think it should be the parents responsibility to test the kids for drugs," said student Nikki Kosko. I don't necessarily think it should be a school policy, but I think it's a good idea for keeping us safe."

Other students said the testing, which doesn't include synthetic drugs, could make students turn to the alternatives.

"If they're testing for weed, they're going to turn to other things to substitute-that's my concern," said student Hunter Dowart.

Local 6 checked with several public school districts and none currently test students for drugs.

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