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De Pere High School explains random drug testing policy

De Pere High School explains random drug testing policy. (WLUK/ Cartwright)

DE PERE (WLUK) --- High school students across the state, who participate in extra-curricular, could soon undergo random drug tests.

It's part of a proposal by a state lawmaker.

However, this new proposal wouldn't be new for the De Pere School District, it has been randomly drug testing students for 10 years.

Of the roughly 1,400 students in De Pere High School, 12 are randomly drug tested each week.

"We have three pools that we test from, we have our co-curricular which is clubs and sports, we have our parking, and then we have a special club that students have pledged to live drug and alcohol free, that's where our 12 students come from,” said Nick Joseph, principal of De Pere High School.

Joseph says about 400 students a year are tested, but he said he couldn’t give an extra number of how many students test positively for drug use.

“I really couldn't give you a number it changes per year,” explained Joseph.

De Pere Schools Superintendent Ben Villarruel said the testing process is confidential.

"Aurora BayCare handles all of the testing, so it really is a confidential process occurring between the hospital, the parents, and the student.

The district says there are consequences if students do test positive for a drug use. For example; they could lose their parking spot, get kicked off a sports team, or possibly be suspended.

"The biggest thing is to just get them the help, help get the families on board, that's more of the emphasis for us,” explained Joseph.

The De Pere School District is one of a handful of districts in the state that randomly drug test, but it could become state law.

Republican State Representative Joel Kleefisch plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming session.

"We can't help somebody unless we know who that somebody is and we do that through drug testing,” said Kleefisch.

In Kleefisch’s bill, students in extra-curricular activities, as well as those who park on school property, would be subject to the random searches.

However, not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

Republican State. Representative Cindi Duchow said this kind of policy should be done on a local level.

"I think that the schools are the experts in their area. They know what their community needs and I think it should be a local decision not a state wide decision,” explained Duchow.

The De Pere School District said no matter the outcome of the bill, it plans to continue with the drug testing.

Kleefisch has not yet said how much the testing would cost, and how it would be paid for.

Aurora BayCare covers the costs for the De Pere district, as part of a partnership.

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