Omaha Creighton Prep High School announced Wednesday it will start random drug and alcohol testing of all students with the 2014-15 school year.
The school says this is part of a developing health and wellness program and an ongoing commitment by the school to the Jesuit philosophy of “care for the whole person.”
Some parents are against it, but the school said the majority of parents are for it.
"It reinforces what our values are at home. So we think it is a good move. It helps with peer pressure," said Mari Rensch, parent.
The drug and alcohol testing program aims to educate students about substance use and discourage its use, provide early intervention that focuses initially on non-disciplinary support and foster an environment that makes it easier for students to say no.
"They say I can't do this, I have to go to school and there is a chance I might be tested," said Nicholas Davis, junior.
The decision to add drug and alcohol testing comes after years of participation by Prep in the Nebraska Risk and Protective Factor Student Survey, which confirms adolescents are confronted by a culture of permissiveness and misinformation about drugs and alcohol and their risks.
More recent discussions with various Prep constituencies and other Catholic and Jesuit high schools also contributed to the decision, as did information on the vulnerability of young people to these substances, especially via peer pressure.
“It comes down to the care of our students and their health,” says Creighton Prep principal John Naatz. “We believe this policy can positively influence the culture of our students in a way that complements the efforts of parents to dissuade their children from drug and alcohol use.”
Starting this August, hair samples will be collected and tested for binge drinking, marijuana, PCPs, amphetamines, cocaine and opiates. For those who test positive, a program of evaluation and support begins with additional testing in 90 days. In the case of a second positive test, a review for disciplinary action becomes part of the process. A third positive test results in dismissal from Prep.
“Our goal is to compassionately form a healthy young man who has negotiated the external pressures of adolescence in becoming an adult in the service of others, guided primarily by a strong set of internal values,” says Naatz. “We look forward to caring for our students in this new way.”
Public schools can require such tests only for students participating in extracurricular activities.