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MOUNT PLEASANT (KDKA) — The nationwide opioid epidemic has destroyed careers and families, and now, local schools are taking a stance to encourage students to remain drug-free.

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Drug testing student drivers isn’t new in the state of Pennsylvania. In fact, it’s been going on since the early 2000s, but it’s new in Mount Pleasant. The policy says if you’re clean when it comes to urine analysis, you can drive to school. If not, you can’t.

With more than 100 students driving to Mount Pleasant Area Junior and Senior High School every day, district administrators have decided to enact the drug-testing policy. The decision to take action they say it driven by the epidemic that is killing so many Americans every day.

“We’re aware that there is a drug epidemic currently going on,” said Assistant Superintendent Anthony DeMaro. “Not only here, but across the state, across the nation, and we want to make sure we’re keeping our kids safe.”

According to the policy:

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  • Tests will be random at cost to the district
  • The test will cover multiple illegal substances
  • All tests will be administered by the school district
  • A positive result means suspension of driving privileges

“If somebody does test positive, there’s procedures in place to give the student assistance. It’s not, ‘I caught you and you’re going to be expelled from school,’” said DeMaro. “If we have a student that is testing positive, we want to make sure that we get them the help they need.”

Under the policy, any and all students applying for a school parking permit must have a parent sign a testing consent form.

If we do not have a consent form, then they do not have driving privileges,” said DeMaro.

If a student fails a drug test, the new policy doesn’t mean they’ll never be allowed to drive to school again.

“They lose the privilege temporarily from driving until they go and get another follow through with their physician for a test, and then following that, they come in and they take all of our recommendations so they can be reinstated for a driving permit,” DeMaro said.

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The district says it’s awaiting all parental consent forms to come in. The policy is expected to go into effect after Nov. 22.