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Woodward Academy to drug-test HS students next year | Education

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Woodward Academy to drug-test HS students next year

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. -- Next year Woodward Academy will become the second school in the state of Georgia to enforce random drug testing on its students.

The decision comes on the heels of a new study saying that drug use among teens is as prevalent as ever.

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"Drug use by students is prevalent everywhere," said Dr. Stuart Gulley, president at Woodward Academy. "It's not just a Woodward problem; it's an everywhere problem."

More and more, "everywhere" includes private schools. The newest study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance says 60% of teens believe their high school is quote "drug-infected". That number is actually relatively consistent with prior years. But in private schools, the number has jumped from 36% to 54%.

"The whole emphasis of the program is prevention, not punishment," said Dr. Gulley of Woodward's policy.

Woodward's plan looks like this: every few weeks, a random selection of upper school students -- 9th through 12th graders -- will be tested by an outside firm for both illegal drugs and legal (for abuse only) drugs. Test positive once, and you get extra hours of community service among other punishments. Test positive twice, and you will be dismissed from the school.

The big question, of course: does this overstep a school's bounds?

"We've heard that from a few parents here," Dr. Gulley said, "but overwhelmingly the response from parents has been very much in favor of what we're planning to do."

The other big question: does drug testing stop kids from taking drugs? Dr. Gulley admits the evidence is inconclusive, but he says in talking with other private schools who have put in similar programs, they all felt a major change in the culture - a change he hopes to see at Woodward.