In an effort to discourage drug use and vaping, a Catholic high school in Ohio has announced plans to begin testing its students for drugs and nicotine, joining what education professionals are calling a growing trend.

Administrators at Stephen T. Badin High School in Hamilton said in a letter to parents last week that the drug-testing program, which they said had been shaped over the course of two years with help from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, would go into effect in January.

Students will be tested at least once a year for illicit drugs, alcohol, nicotine and other banned substances, the school said. There is no maximum number of times a student may be tested.

"The impact of drug use on young students and their families is staggering and our community is not immune to this issue," the letter said, adding that testing would encourage students not to do drugs.

Students are required to consent to the testing as a condition of their enrollment at the school, and potential consequences for violating the drug policy include suspension and expulsion, the letter said. Under the new guidelines, a first positive drug test alone would not necessarily result in disciplinary action, provided there are no other violations of the policy, like rules against intoxication during school hours or possession of drugs on campus. But a comprehensive intervention plan would be put into place after a second positive test, and expulsion might be recommended after a third.

Badin High School, about 25 miles north of Cincinnati, has a coeducational enrollment of 622 students.

"The individual school administration and board decide if drug testing is a policy they want to enact," the spokeswoman, Jennifer Schack, said on Thursday.

Private schools have control over their enrollments, David Bloomfield, an education law professor at Brooklyn College, said in an interview. "The school seems largely within its rights to come up with this policy," he said.

But there may be potential legal concerns if the school is found to disproportionately test one group of students over another, he noted, possibly bringing about "arbitrary enforcement and harassment."

The debate about testing students for drugs dates back to before 2002, the year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the random drug testing of public school students. The 5-4 decision expanded an earlier ruling that endorsed drug testing for student athletes.

New York Times