Due to the recent spike in heroin use overdoses in Ocean County, officials in Lacey Township have decided the best preventative course of action would be to institute a random drug testing policy for all high school students.

A reading of positive on a drug test or failure to submit to the testing could result in non-participation in extracurricular activities, loss of parking privlidiges, and possibility not being able to attend graduation.

As a parent, would you be ok with allowing your child to be randomly tested for drugs – even if your child shows no outward appearances of experimenting?

On one hand, the program treats your child as though he or she is “guilty before being proven innocent!”

On the other hand, it serves as a wake up call to possibly alert you to a problem you may have overlooked in your child.

High school students here must submit to random drug testing in 2014 to stay in extra-curricular activities, attend dances and proms, or even park their cars at school.

Under a new random drug testing policy — adopted Monday by the Board of Education — all ninth- through twelfth-grade students who test positive for drugs or alcohol, or who refuse a drug test, would be prohibited from many school privileges. Among them: sports, graduation ceremonies, non-academic class trips, band and school plays.

Drug use in Ocean County has gained widespread attention in recent months, as county Prosecutor Joseph Coronato has battled a spike in drug overdose deaths this year. So far, at least 107 people have died as a result of drug overdoses in Ocean County, more than double the number who died in 2012, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

In a show of support, Lacey Township School District officials permitted Coronato and narcotics officers to enter the school last week with a team of drug-sniffing dogs.

“We are all committed to fighting this fight with him,” said Lacey’s Acting Superintendent Vanessa Clark. “This isn’t the first time that the Lacey Township School District has had drug dogs searching our hallways.”

Clark expects the searches to become routine throughout Ocean County schools, given the current drug crisis.

Last week, Coronato and law enforcement officials would not say what, if anything, was found in the search. But Clark told the district’s Board of Education Monday that no drugs were discovered after the specially-trained dogs sniffed locker vents in the high school.

Though Lacey had 61 suspensions in the high school and middle school during October, only one — at Lacey Township Middle School — was because of substance abuse, according to Board of Education documents.

The adoption of the random drug testing policy of high school students is another “tool in the tool box,” board member Maureen Tirella said during the group’s Monday meeting.

Under the drug testing policy, 30 students would be selected at random each month to provide a urine sample that would be tested for alcohol and various drugs. A positive drug test would result — in addition to the revocation of activities and parking privileges — in notification of parents and counseling sessions with a substance abuse coordinator. The student would also have to consent to four more tests over the next 12 months.

Subsequent positive drug tests could result in a year’s worth of revoked privileges and activities, and requirement to attend a drug education or rehabilitation program.

Each test kit costs about $28, or about $840 per month if all 30 students are tested, Clark said. The school district is in the process of finalizing a deal with Sport Safe Testing Service Inc. of Powell, Ohio, to administer the program.

“The district needs to keep the high school (students) safe,” said 52-year-old Regina Discenza, who supports both the drug-sniffing dog search and drug testing policy, and whose younger child attends the high school. “If the (drug) sweep saves one life or deters one student from using, it was worth it.”

So here we have the tug of war between parents who want to raise their own kids vs. parents who’ll allow the school to become a surrogate.

The overriding concern is that it “saves lives, and even if it’s one life saved, the effort would have been worth it!”

Does the school’s mission to nip drug problems in the bud trump your own parental responsibility?