After 1 Year, Hayden Administrators Pleased With Random Drug Tests

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- One year has passed since Topeka's Hayden High School started randomly drug testing students, and so far, administrators are pleased with the outcome.

13 News followed up on the story first reported in February 2012.

Dean of Students at Hayden High Mike Monaghan said the school is not out to "bust" kids when random drug tests are administered, but just to make it easier for them to say "no."

"They don't want to get caught, they don't want to embarrass their families, they don't want to be suspended from school, face those consequences, so it's also a deterrent and that's what it's meant to be," Monaghan said.

Random drug testing began in the fall of 2012. A small section of hair is snipped off of the student's head, it is secured in a foil wrapper and sealed inside a plastic package. Both the student and Monaghan sign-off on it, then it is sent into the testing company Psychemedics. Test results come back within two weeks.

Senior Blake Hunter, who has been tested, said students had mixed reactions. He is a tennis player, so he feels it's easier for athletes to say "no" to drugs and people will understand that they don't want to lose their playing privileges.

"At first people were looking up how long does it stay in your system. But it's changed some people's minds I think. I think it's been a better influence not only here but on the weekends when people are out doing stuff," Blake said.

"At first maybe they thought, maybe I have a good chance of not being tested, is this for real?" Monaghan said. "They knew it was coming last year, but they didn't know what scope, and now they know it's very real and it's making a difference."

Parent reaction has been mostly favorable.

"We're not trying to take over the parent role, but we're raising these kids to be productive citizens. Many work places test for drugs so in a way we're preparing them for that."

Blake's sister Paige Hunter graduated last year from Hayden High School and looking back, says she appreciated the testing.

"Now that we do the drug testing, I think it's less of a problem," she said. "I think some people still choose to do it and they're going to get caught in the long-run. But before all this happened I think more people were doing it than you think."

Doing what?

The test screens for cocaine, opiates, PCP, amphetamines and marijuana.

Monaghan said only 2% of the school's tests came back positive - all for marijuana.

That compares to 3.6% of students who, in the same year, self-reported smoking marijuana. In the 2009-2010 school year, that number was 18%.

"Those numbers closely mirror one another, 2 to 3% range, so that's why I think we can say that based on that data we're 98% drug-free. I think that's huge for our school," Monaghan said.

Monaghan said Hayden also saw higher ACT scores, more athletic titles, increased service hours and fewer disciplinary reports last year.

He said the student body voted to increase required service hours and completed about 13,000 hours of service. In 2012 the school's composite ACT score was 23.2, with 10% of those scoring a 30 or above. So far in 2013, the composite score is 24.2. Hayden hung up 8 banners for championships or runners-up as well. Students in extra curriculars are high, with 94% involved.

"So could there be a link? Kids being more focused and engaged in learning and on the playing field - it's a possibility."

He said if the school is looking for a profile of students who have had a positive test result, it might be those who are not engaged as much in extra curricular activities.

Over the course of a year, both Monaghan and Blake said the kids have become accustomed to the testing.

"I don't think people like to admit it, especially guys around my age, but I think deep down inside people do appreciate what older people do for us and how it affects our lives," Blake said.

Blake said he knows of other students who have done drugs, but says Hayden has less of a "drug problem" than other high schools.

"I don't believe that any other school in this community can say that based on data of a year that they're 98% drug-free," Monaghan added.

He projects the results of the tests administered this semester to be a little below 2% positive.

If a student tests positive for drugs, parents are notified, he/she can't participate or watch extra curricular activities for at least a month, undergo an assessment at the PARS treatment facility and go through treatment if needed.