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Mandatory drug testing to be implemented in Oklahoma City Catholic high schools

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (The Sooner Catholic) - Both Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will implement mandatory random drug testing of the entire student body beginning next fall.

STUDENTS FACE TESTS - Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will face mandatory drug tests as part of a new policy to promote student health and find help for students with addictions. The device shown here is a six-panel saliva drug test kit marketed by iScreen, one of a variety of test kits used by schools and employers nationwide.

STUDENTS FACE TESTS - Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will face mandatory drug tests as part of a new policy to promote student health and find help for students with addictions. The device shown here is a six-panel saliva drug test kit marketed by iScreen, one of a variety of test kits used by schools and employers nationwide.


In making the announcement, Bishop McGuinness Principal David Morton and Mount Saint Mary Principal Talita DeNegri called the tests another tool in the effort to help teens make good choices and lead healthy and productive lives.

Both McGuinness and Mount Saint Mary have used groups consisting of students, parents and faculty to study the issue and both received positive responses from surveys asking for input.

“We’re very proud of this policy,” DeNegri said. “It fits the needs of our school and is a proactive step to help kids make good decisions.”

Morton said McGuinness initially looked at drug testing about six years ago, but at that time he admits he did not think much of the idea. As a counselor for many years at the school, he said he originally believed such tests infringed on the rights of the students and eroded the level of trust. He has since changed his mind and now fully supports the effort.

“It’s about help,” Morton said. “It’s not punitive, and it gives kids another chance to say ‘no.’”
He said the data is clear, when a drug test policy is in place, drug use declines. If there is no drug testing, use goes up. “You can’t argue with the data,” DeNegri said.

Toward a healthier lifestyle

Morton said the drug testing fits in perfectly with the school’s expanded focuses on wellness. Both McGuinness and Mount Saint Mary will be adding an extra counselor to their faculty and both are making an even greater commitment to health

and what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. Morton said intramural sports are being added at McGuinness and Mount Saint Mary recently dedicated a new fitness center on campus.

In developing their drug-testing policies, the two schools studied more than two dozen schools in Oklahoma and neighboring states. Both McGuinness and Mount Saint Mary will use urine tests and students will be selected randomly each month to participate in the tests. Students and parents must agree to the tests, or they will not be allowed to enroll at the schools. “It’s part of our contract,” DeNegri said.

She said the Mount will test 10 students per month, while Morton said the tests at McGuinness will involve 30 to 35 students per month. The cost for each test is $20 and will be paid by the schools.

If a student does test positive for a substance other than a prescribed medication, the first step would be counseling and an assessment of what other treatment might be necessary.

‘Light that leads you in the right direction’

There is no “three strikes” or similar language in the policies, but Morton and DeNegri agreed that if a child has a serious addiction, the schools could not allow him or her to remain enrolled. The student’s family would need to find more help than the schools can offer, Morton said.

Parental support for the new drug-testing policies has been strong, according to the principals. Students have also been pushing for such a proactive measure. DeNegri described the new policies as “A light that leads you in the right direction.”

She said Sister Catherine Powers, archdiocesan superintendent of schools, and Archbishop Beltran fully support the new policies.

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Sooner Catholic (www.catharchdioceseokc.org/sooner), official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

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1 - 8 of 8 Comments

  1. Smanders
    2 years ago

    Personally I think that random drug testing is good. for the students lives. it may help them get a better education and have a succesful life. but i know lots of my peers do rugs but i hope the best for them! and i hope if they start doing that here in oklahoma city then maybe it will stop the drugs for good. i think jobs and all of that should have drug testing also. so we would have clean workers and a greater world.

  2. Josh
    4 years ago

    It is a good thing my school doesn't have that or we'd all be expelled. Umm, starting with me.

  3. Kipp
    5 years ago

    I believe than random drug testing is a complete invasion of privacy. I think decisions on a student's performance and their attitude is the way to judge whether they need 'intervention' or not. Telling students with drug 'problems' to leave and not come back into you follow a strict regimen is sad. I do not promote drug use, I just believe that it's not other peoples', like schools, place to enforce health lifestyles.

  4. Robert Matzinger
    5 years ago

    Several years ago one of the suburban high schools adopted a policy of random drug tests for all it's athletes. And much to many peoples surprise, the kids approved of it and had no problem with it!

  5. Margie
    5 years ago

    My sons attend Servite High School in Anaheim, California. It is an all boys school under the direction of the Order of the Servants of Mary. Mandatory random drug testing, and more recently drug sniffing dogs, have been implemented and have proved to be a valuable tool in identifying high risk behavior and treating those kids with addictions.

    In most cases, allowing the students who tested positive to return the following school year if certain treatment guidlines are followed. It also allows the student body to utilize the PAL's (Peer Assistance Leadership) program with peer counseling and assistance as needed. I support random drug testing 100% as an aid to help those who need an intervention for self destructive behaviors AND to PROTECT those who may be harmed as a result of someone else making a risky decision. I know what went on when I was in high school in the 80's, random drug testing back then might have saved a few lives!

  6. Kyli Klinger
    5 years ago

    I believe in this fully. I think that the school I am going to should do something about the students in my school. I am doing a speech on this and this atricle really helped me. I understand fully about trying to help people out. I think that it was a great idea to start the drug-tests and not tell anyone when they are. Thanks for helping me and good luck on helping people

  7. Tom Goffe
    5 years ago

    As a BMHS alum ('82) I applaud the courage of Mr. Morton and his concern for the students that this brave step required. The school has always been a local pioneer in providing cutting edge educational, moral and religious training. I believe that as this program unfolds, other educators and parents will see that love for the students is the primary concern, and I trust that it will yield results that will enhance the health of all concerned.

  8. Timothy Brungard
    6 years ago

    It is about time.

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