Students at 2 local private schools will soon face random drug, alcohol testing

Random drug testing at school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Students at two of Jacksonville's private schools will soon face random drug and alcohol testing.

Parents at Bolles High School and Episcopal School of Jacksonville got an email about the new policy, on Wednesday.

Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole got parent reaction and talked to the president of Bolles to learn what motivated his change.

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This is the letter parents at Bolles and Episcopal School of Jacksonville woke up to on Wednesday morning.

"I read it and I thought... interesting," said Julie Mann.

It talks about new, random drug and alcohol testing program for students.

Mann's son is a Junior at Bolles... and she thinks it's a good thing.

"I do think it helps the kids. Gives them a little excuse with their peers to not do something that they really didn't want to anyway," Mann told Cole.

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In the email, Tyler Hodges, president of Bolles School,  lays out 5 reasons behind the move, including the overall health and wellness of the students.

"And the research shows, the longer you go without trying nicotine, alcohol, any of these drugs — the odds are that you will not develop a dependency later on. From that standpoint, I'm all for it," said president Hodges.

The new, random drug testing policy is apart of a bigger picture for Bolles: the Mindfulness and Wellness program, they started on campus a couple of years ago.

President Hodges told Action News Jax the school nurse will use a saliva test will test for drugs and alcohol. It will also test for nicotine to help address the vaping epidemic.

But the new policy won't begin until next school year.

Students testing positive will get a warning, the second time they face consequences.

"We all want the same thing. We love these kids, we want them to be successful," said president Hodges.

To give you some perspective on how significant this change is, Cole reached out to Duval, St. Johns and Clay County Public School Districts. She learned none of these school districts randomly test their student body for drugs or alcohol.

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