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West Jefferson Hills seeks tougher school drug policy

| Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, 1:15 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson High School in the West Jefferson Hills School District.
Thomas Jefferson High School in the West Jefferson Hills School District.

West Jefferson Hills school board members last week approved the first reading of revisions to the district's controlled substances/paraphernalia policy.

Superintendent Michael Ghilani said the changes will allow the district to take a tougher stand on drug and alcohol abuse. Ghilani said he took into consideration results from a district survey and from conversations with community members, parents and faculty.

The revisions would give the high school and middle school principals the authority to administer a saliva test or breathalyzer test to a student.

“This will arm the principals with the tools necessary that if they had reasonable suspicion a student was using or under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol that they would have the ability to test,” Ghilani said. “It's not about the ability to cite, it's really about student safety.”

The current policy calls for a third party to come in and administer a test, which Ghilani said is not feasible, especially when the student is at a school event off campus.

The policy revisions also would allow the disciplinary and investigative processes to continue if the parent or student refuses the drug test.

The district during the 2015-16 school year — the most recent data available — reported one incident each of possession or use and sale or distribution of a controlled substance and four incidents each of sale/possession/use or under the influence and possession/use or sale of tobacco to the state Department of Education through the Safe Schools Report. All incidents reported involved high school students.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805, jspezialetti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribJimSpez.

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