Preparatory School Sees Drug Testing of Students as Deterrent

ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL ORLANDO) – It has been a year since Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando made national news with its drug policy. Leaders of the private school decided to drug test all students in 7th through 12th grades. If the students failed two drug tests, they were told they would be kicked out of the school.

Lake Highland Preparatory in Orlando prides itself on setting the standard. From the high-tech smart boards in science rooms to its state-of-the-art television studios, President Warren Hudson, a former naval commander, is used to navigating rough territory. He said they didn’t implement their drug policy because they have a drug problem, but because they wanted to keep it that way.

“I think that young people, being young people, they’re going to take risks,” said Hudson. “They’re going to experiment. We knew that. We’ve done something about it.”

The policy stems from a 2012 survey.

“One of the things they asked about was the use of drugs,” said Hudson. “We had students who admitted using drugs in the last 30 days.”

So during the 2013-2014 school year, 7th-12th graders had to donate a hair at the beginning of the year for testing by a private company.

“It had two purposes,” said Hudson. “One, to identify any young person who may have a drug problem so that their family can work with them to fix it.”

The second was to give students incentive to avoid drugs. Six random tests were also conducted during the year. One failed test meant the student must be retested within 100 days. If he or she failed a second time, he or she was to be asked to withdraw from school. The school tested for 18 different drugs.

“Of course they’re looking for some horrible ones like Heroin, Cocaine, Barbiturates,” said Hudson.

But it also picked up on some prescribed drugs.

“We had some that come back with Oxycodone, or whatever those painkilling drugs are, and the families brought us the valid prescriptions and that was the end of the story,” said Hudson.

Here are the results: 1200 students were tested last year. During that time, Lake Highland sent 1600 samples to the lab. Nine students tested positive. Six tested negative when they were retested.

“That’s a tremendous success rate,” said Hudson. “We’re very, very happy with that.”

One other student must be retested at the beginning of this school year. As for the two students who failed both drug tests?

“The students are no longer at our school,” said Hudson. “We asked them to withdraw.”

Hudson said some parents have even asked him to do their dirty work.

“We’ve had parents say, ‘my son is acting weird. Would you test him?'” Hudson said.

Hudson said all of those tests came back negative. Hudson also added the policy doesn’t seem to have negatively affected interest.

“I would say this has been very much a plus in terms of enrollment,” said Hudson.

He adds that parents’ reactions haven’t all been positive.

“We’ve had some parents who I would say are maybe in the Libertarian way of thinking that maybe we’re being intrusive,” said Hudson.

But Lake Highland is a private school that can make its own rules – ones that Hudson hopes will help his students.

“We’ll continue to make sure that we help our children grow in wisdom and statue and God’s favor in Lake Highland,” said Hudson.

Hudson told FOX 35 two families did withdraw their students before school started last year.

“They said, ‘Mr. Hudson, we know we’ve got a problem,'” Hudson recounted. “‘Our child has had a drug problem.'”

A donor paid for last year’s tests. Hudson said that same donor will pay for the tests again this year.