A few schools in the northeast Ohio region will begin a controversial practice this fall: taking hair samples from students to test for drugs.

According to WKCY-TV, St. Edward High School in Ashland, St. Ignatius in Cleveland and Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, will begin annual and random screening for drugs among its students this year, something they informed students and parents about before the end of the last school year.

It’s not just a single strand of hair that’s needed either. One school’s handbook explained that students should be prepared to have about the “thickness of a shoelace tip” taken from their heads.

Hair samples will be taken from students at the beginning of the school year to test for drugs in their system within the last 100 days. (Image source: WKCY-TV)

Hair samples will be taken from students at the beginning of the school year to test for drugs in their system within the last 100 days. (Image source: WKCY-TV)

St. Edward spokesman KC McKenna told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that there won’t be any “noticeable loss of hair” though.

“Even in short-haired males, it’s hardly noticeable that the hair has been cut,” Brian Horgan with Gilmour Academy told the newspaper.

WKCY reported that while some see the $40 test in the Catholic schools as a possible privacy issue, school officials said positive test results would only be shared with the student’s parents and counselor. The Plain Dealer reported that in some rare cases, information might be shared with police.

St. Edward’s in its handbook explained that the drug test will be conducted by trained personnel with two people present at the time the hair sample is taken. On this day, students are expected to “wear a hair style that allows for a sample of head hair to be collected.” Should students try to rid themselves of hair through head or body shaving, the school said it would consider this a violation of its policy.

Students who test positive will face follow-up testing at the expense of their parents or guardians.

Watch WKCY’s report about the impending drug testing:

“This is going to be a positive program that is ultimately going to help kids,” McKenna told the Plain Dealer. “If parents know kids will go through high school drug free, it’s a big win.”

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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