VHS weighing drug test policy
By Diane Kubiak Post-Tribune correspondent March 19, 2013 9:30PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:29AM
VALPARAISO — The first outline of a random drug-testing policy for Valparaiso High School emerged Tuesday night. Valparaiso and Portage Township Schools are the only two districts in Porter County that don’t have a policy in place.
Only students who drive to school, or are in extracurricular activities recognized by the school board, are subject to testing.
Students will lose their parking privileges if they test positive. On second or third positive tests, more interventions will take place, including parent involvement and parent-paid substance abuse counseling.
VHS Principal Reid Amones said exact details of the three-step program are still being worked out with his building committee.
Valparaiso Schools Health Director Joy Sunday said discussions about the problem emerged during strategic planning. “We’ve been working on this for two years before this,” she said.
Amones stressed that the program is meant to catch students before they have a problem.
Social worker Jennifer Hippie said it is meant to catch those on the fence and that all components encourage students to make better choices.
The concept will undergo further discussion at 6 p.m. April 2 in the administration center where the community is encouraged to give input.
The impetus for the policy came from a Porter County-wide task force funded by the Porter County Foundation.
“We have a problem,” said Superintendent Mike Berta. He said substance abuse was identified as one of the top two county problems and probably at the top.
In comparing high school students across the grades, VHS juniors and seniors consume more drugs than the state or national average and students in all four high school grades binge drink well beyond those averages.
Berta, who has historical data on the problem, said the problem has been getting worse.