The Olentangy school board has asked the district's administration to look into the possibility of expanding drug testing for both students and staff.

The Olentangy school board has asked the district's administration to look into the possibility of expanding drug testing for both students and staff.

Mark Raiff, Olentangy's chief academic officer, said the district randomly tests its high school athletes on a weekly basis. He gave a presentation to the board on the district's program at its April 9 meeting.

"Typically, we test about 30 student athletes every week," he said. "We test for all types of drugs: marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs."

Of 1,056 tests administered to Olentangy's student athletes this school year, eight have returned positive results.

Raiff said the athletes also are tested for alcohol, although the test is not likely to detect its presence unless the student consumed a drink the previous night.

Students who test positive for alcohol or drugs are suspended from athletic participation and tested for five consecutive weeks.

Board President Kevin O'Brien said the board wants to have a discussion about the potential benefits and drawbacks of introducing pre-employment drug screening for staff and testing for students in extracurricular activities.

"We're trying to see: Is our current scope too narrow?" he said. "Is it appropriate for us to expand that scope?"

Gale Marsh, the district's executive director of human resources, said situations in which the district currently screens employees for drugs are limited.

The district's bus drivers and other employees with commercial driver's licenses must take random and post-accident drug tests.

Marsh said district supervisors also can require any employee to take a drug test based on a "reasonable suspicion" of drug use.

"If they refused to go for that reasonable-suspicion testing, we would follow the normal discipline process and be able to draw a negative inference," he said.

Board member Julie Wagner Feasel said now is the time for the district to have a discussion about adding pre-employment screening, especially with an effort to legalize marijuana progressing in the state.

"I see it as a workplace safety issue," she said.

Marsh said the administration would research the possibility at the board's request.

Feasel also asked whether the district could expand its drug-testing program to include students involved in extracurricular activities.

Raiff said current law allows districts to test students who participate in extracurricular activities because the students are placing themselves in a position of "high visibility." He said districts also can randomly test students who request parking passes.

"If you want the privilege, you have to submit to being in the random pool," he said.

O'Brien said he would like to see a report detailing the drug-testing practices other districts employ with regard to both students and staff. He also asked the administration to research the cost of more-expansive drug testing.

Raiff said the district already is "well ahead of the curve" in terms of drug testing compared with other districts.

"We are not the norm in central Ohio in terms of drug testing," he said. "We are one of the few who do."