The Effectiveness of Moeller's Drug Testing

 Principal Carl Kremer  Photo by: Blaise Harsch

Principal Carl Kremer

Photo by: Blaise Harsch

When Moeller announced that a drug testing initiative would be implemented during the 2017-2018 school year, students and faculty began forming mixed feelings on the decision. Questions were asked, due to the hefty price tag of $50,000 a year, about whether or not this plan would prove effective. 

In today's world, various forms of drugs are becoming easier to obtain by teenagers and young adults. In addition, males are statistically proven to start using drugs at a younger age and are more likely to use drugs in larger quantities according to drugabuse.org.

After years of not having a drug testing program, this decision came as a bit of a shock to many students. The Moeller administration is hoping to see drug use decline among the student body as well as provide counseling to those who may be suffering from addiction and harmful abuse. Sure, this drug testing program sounds good idea, but has it actually been living up to the expectations?

The student opinion on this whole matter varies drastically. Some students claim that this is an extreme invasion of privacy and the school is overstepping its boundaries. Other students have little to no comment on the initiative and couldn’t care less if they were drug tested.

The Moeller Crusader sat down with Mr. Carl Kremer and Mr. Marshall Hyzdu and asked  about the drug testing program's success. They were both very eager to express their satisfaction with the initiative thus far. The first question that was asked to Mr. Kremer was regarding the rumor about the drug testing possibly being stopped. Mr. Kremer dispelled the rumor by saying, “this is 100% false. I don’t know how it got started.” As he began to chuckle, “The school has been thrilled with the results of it and it’s been perfect.” Many people were spreading a rumor saying that several donors were going to pull out. CK then explained that there aren’t actually any donors at all. Moeller decided that they wanted to fund this program themselves, so there aren’t any donors that could potentially pull out.

 President Marshall Hyzdu  Photo by: Bridgestone

President Marshall Hyzdu

Photo by: Bridgestone

Mr. Kremer had nothing but good things to say about the entire testing procedure. “The process to do it, we thought, would be very difficult but really it was quite easy. The incredible work of Mrs. Neuhaus and Mr. Beitman really made everything go smoothly.”

In regards to the number of kids that tested positive, although specific numbers weren’t able to be shared, Mr. Kremer stated that the numbers were “significantly below 5% of the student body."  Given that there are currently about 880 students at Moeller, this means that somewhere between 0 and 45  students tested positive. 

Mr. Kremer felt strongly that this program changed the behavior of students at Moeller. “Kids knew there would be a test and from that stand point we feel like we helped kids make the right decision.  All the literature shows that when kids start drug use at ages fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, their chances of long term negative consequences are much greater than if they started at an older age.” According to inspirationsyouth.com, this is true.  It is known that the earlier someone uses drugs, the more likely they are to try more dangerous drugs in the future.  As a matter of fact, ninety percent of adults who struggle with drug addiction first used drugs before the age of 18.

Moeller President, Marshall Hyzdu, was asked about his role in the process and his initial thoughts about the program when he came back to Moeller. He started out by saying that he was very surprised to learn the increase in marijuana usage among high school students nationally.  

Mr. Hyzdu also explained that he sat down with presidents from other local schools and discussed certain topics that included drug testing.  Mr. Hyzdu brought back information from those meetings to Mr. Kremer and that “got the ball rolling” on the drug testing program. Mr. Kremer gathered a committee that handled all of the work that the initiative brought with it. Mr. Hyzdu received periodic updates and he “met with George Elder of Psychemedics”, but other than that he was fairly hands off.

Mr. Hyzdu was also asked why the faculty was not being drug tested along with the students. He responded, “We are going to implement this, first, with the students because that is what this mission is about. Then we would review on an annual, or semi-annual basis, how we are going to improve it. But for this first year it was just something we wanted to do for the students.”

The Moeller Crusader also talked with Mrs. Neuhaus and asked her some technical questions about the drug testing process. She explained “the most common type of drug testing is urine. This is what a lot of companies use, but there is a very short life for drugs and they are out of the system very quickly while you’re testing urine. The other one is blood, which is also very short lived. The idea with hair is that you have that a ninety to one-hundred day, roughly, window.”

The drug testing initiative at Moeller High School isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Although a few people might disagree and be discouraged with the whole program, the majority of the faculty, students and parents are very pleased with the action. Mr. Kremer stated, “for every one negative phone call I got, I received close to twenty positive calls.”

In addition to parents, students have also provided encouraging feedback about the program.  Over the course of the school year, 783 Moeller students took a survey about the effects of the testing.  Six hundred students (76.6%) stated that they felt the drug screening has decreased the amount of marijuana use among students. Four hundred and forty three students (56.6%) stated the program now makes it easier for them to say "no" to using illicit drugs.  Since peer pressure is key player in adolescent drug use, this number seems to indicate a favorable outcome for the screenings.  Finally, 46.5% and 36.9% of students said that the drug testing has had a positive impact or no impact at Moeller, respectively. 

 Archbishop Moeller High School sign facing Montgomery Road  Photo by: Nick Ujvagi

Archbishop Moeller High School sign facing Montgomery Road

Photo by: Nick Ujvagi

The drug testing actually offers many benefits to students. For one, it allows them to potentially get out of conflict at parties. If offered an illegal substance the student could respond by saying that he isn’t able to participate because he might be drug tested. Also by refraining from doing drug, the Moeller classrooms and community, hopefully, will become better places. According to Sharon R. Sznitman on DrugWarFacts.org, "schools are important as social and learning environments affecting not only academic achievement but also health behaviors. Young people whose relationships with their fellow students and teachers lack respect are more likely to initiate and escalate use of drugs [...] therefore, the potential consequences of poor school climates for young people’s health are far reaching and deserving of attention."

The Moeller Administration believes that by having the absence of drugs in the school community many of the problems associated with drug abuse will be eliminated. For example, in years past some students may come to school and seem to be “under the influence”. However this year there have been zero teacher reports or complaints about this happening. “After being an administrator for twenty five years I believe this has been, by far, the most successful thing we have done in helping our kids,” said Mr. Kremer.

The discipline process of the drug testing is also another point that raised questions from students and faculty. Since day one, Mr. Kremer and the rest of the administration had said that a single positive test would result in no disciplinary action. Mr. Kremer said, “We are not treating adolescent drug use as a behavioral issue.  We are treating it more as a heath issue.” If a student tests positive on a drug test, it is then passed along to their counselor. From there, the student, his parents, and his counselor would work to create a plan of action. An assessment from a physician would also be recommended to the student. The student would then be tested every ninety days for the rest of the school year. If a student were to test positive a second time, then they would be required to sign a disciplinary contract, with the idea that they can’t test positive a third time. Finally, if the student were to test positive a third time, then the school will make a decision whether or not the student can stay at Moeller. Mr. Kremer said that, “If the student is really trying to follow his treatment plan”, then the school might make an exception and let him stay.

Overall it seems like the drug testing initiative at Moeller has been a complete success so far. It seems that feedback from the administration, faculty, parents, and students has for the most part been positive. The whole purpose of the program was to further improve the well-being of the students at Moeller, and after talking with Mr. Kremer and Mr. Hyzdu, it seems to be progressing towards that aim. Although there were rumors about the drug testing possibly being stopped, there are no signs that show the program going anywhere anytime soon.

 

 

Nicholas Peters