Central Catholic, Pittsburgh Diocese announce random drug testing

Central Catholic, Pittsburgh Diocese announce random drug testing

Central Catholic High School and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Friday announced a wellness initiative that will include periodic random drug testing of students.

The initiative will begin at Central Catholic at the start of the 2020-21 school year with other diocesan high schools likely following suit. Each school has some autonomy, however.

Central joins several other public and private schools in the state that have already implemented periodic random drug testing policies. They include Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown and Bishop Guilfoyle High School in Altoona.

“Anything that helps to keep our students remain drug-free protects their freedom, their future and their families,” Bishop David Zubik said in a statement.

Central Catholic has contracted with Psychemedics Corp. of Boston to conduct the drug testing of students (grades 9-12), using a hair sampling procedure.

“This is about education. This is about intervention,” said Brother Tony Baginski, Central Catholic Principal.

“Three years ago, vaping at the high school level was not a concern. THC use with vaping was not a concern, at least in Pittsburgh. The opioid crisis was not on the radar. So, the idea behind this is what can we do to, as much as possible, help our students grow up drug free and healthy,” Baginski said.

Baginski said the program will give students being pressured into using drugs a legitimate reason to decline.

There is no discipline for a student’s first positive test and the student will be allowed to participate in all activities. Multiple positive tests will bring discipline because more intervention will likely be required, said Baginski.

“This is about testing and prevention. And if a student is engaging in illegal drug activity, we want to intervene as soon as possible.”

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