The Pickerington Local School District Board of Education this spring will consider changes to the district's student-athlete drug-testing policy that could result in random, in-school tests and penalties for preseason infractions.

The Pickerington Local School District Board of Education this spring will consider changes to the district's student-athlete drug-testing policy that could result in random, in-school tests and penalties for preseason infractions.

Under a proposed policy, district athletes would be taken from class at random to submit to drug tests during their respective sports seasons.

Currently, the district randomly tests athletes on weekends throughout their seasons.

The students are notified the day prior to a test.

Athletes also could, for the first time, be suspended from participating in games if they test positive for drugs, alcohol or nicotine during the preseason of their sport, although at least one board member has indicated she does not favor that change.

The proposals were discussed by the board April 13.

No decisions have been made, and board Vice President Lori Sanders said she's not sure preseason penalties would best serve student athletes.

"If our goal is to identify students early and get them help, which is what I believe is what we are here to be doing, there should be a way to do that without penalizing that person during the season," Sanders said.

"I think there's a way to get to a solution without penalizing the student right off the bat."

Currently, a third-party medical officer tests all Pickerington high school athletes prior to the start of practice for their respective seasons.

All athletes must submit to a preseason drug test to participate in school-sponsored sports.

Parents are notified if their child tests positive for drugs, alcohol or tobacco as a result of the preseason test, but the district is not informed.

Under the proposed policy, the district would be informed of preseason positive tests, and athletes who fail a test would be subject to the same penalties faced for an in-season violation.

Those penalties include being banned from playing in 50 percent of games scheduled for that season for a first failed test, being suspended from athletic participation for a full calendar year for a second positive test and a career-long ban for a third failed test.

"We were looking for ways of shoring up our drug testing program," said Mark Aprile, Pickerington's director of student activities.

Aprile said 1,300 student athletes have been subjected to pre-season testing during the 2014-15 school year, and eight failed.

Sanders said results show there is not a widespread problem among the district's athletes.

"We're not talking about droves of students," she said.

Aprile said the board could establish "something in between" the current policy and the recent proposal.

Sanders said she likely would support a policy in which students who test positive during the preseason wouldn't be penalized, but would be among those tested as soon as their seasons begin.

The board could address the issue at its May 11 regular meeting.