In the past few years, drug testing in schools has been on the rise since teen drug and substance abuse has become a serious problem. Public schools had been granted legal permission by the Supreme Court to administer random drug tests for student-athletes initially. With a surge in implementation of drug tests since this decision, more and more schools have expanded the drug testing parameters to their entire student population.
Schools generally conduct random drug testing and/or reasonable suspicion/cause testing. Generally, the students will be asked to provide urine specimen for screening process. Students are selected for random drug testing irrespective of their substance use history. It is mandatory for the students participating in sports or extracurricular activities to undergo drug testing. If the school authority notices any student to exhibit physical and behavioral symptoms of substance abuse, the student will be subjected to reasonable suspicion/cause testing.
Many schools are adopting drug testing programs hoping:
- To decrease drug misuse and illegal substance use among students.
- To deter students from using drugs or alcohol, and motivate them against peer pressure to engage in drugs or alcohol.
- To identify students who use drugs or alcohol infrequently or in addiction, and render early intervention and rehabilitation.
Drug testing insists that students can be screened without being subjected to violation. In the case of positive drug test, it isn’t mandatory for the schools to report the results to any type of legal authority. Hence, if students are found to be using drugs exclusively by school officials, they cannot be legally prosecuted.
It is contemplated that negative consequences of drug use may reflect students towards making wiser decisions. For instance, a student gets shunned from participating in any extracurricular activities or playing sports for a predetermined period of time after being tested positive for drugs. It is considered that the ban would definitely impact the student, which may in turn lead to refraining from indulging in any drugs or alcohol in the future.
Contrarily, there are controversies that drug testing in schools is not only ineffective, but also insidious. It is also stated that students are less likely to complete their education after being expelled or suspended. This may also lead to reluctance to participate in any school related activities and may also promote drug use with lifelong consequences.
The thought of having a drug-free middle and high school may seem idyllic for some parents, teachers and administrators, but the random drug testing process can be controversial and involve a number of intricate legal issues and constitutional challenges. If the schools drug test all their students believing to keep the children safe, then the schools run a risk of violating Students’ Fourth Amendment Rights.
Recent studies have shown mixed results with regards to the usefulness of random drug testing in schools. Researchers generally concur that student drug testing is not a standalone strategy to reduce or eliminate substance use or misuse in students and that creating a positive school environment may help achieve success in drug prevention programs.
Can My School Make Me Take A Random Drug Test?
No, but if you are engaged in extracurricular or sports activities, it is mandatory to undergo random drug testing. You cannot be forced by your school to take a drug test under other conditions.
Students participating in extracurricular or sports activities should have their parents sign the consent form, which is inclusive of drug testing. So parents need to read the consent form thoroughly before signing it and may even have a discussion with the school administration in order to have a full understanding of the testing policies and procedures.
Testing of other students is allowed, but only in limited circumstances. The existing case laws indicate that schools may drug test students only if there are physical and behavioral changes to suspect that the student is under the influence of drugs.
Schools may impose penalties if students violate their drug testing policies. The objective is to prevent drug use or abuse and help students with drug use issues to become drug-free. If a student fails the random drug test, he or she may be expelled from sports activities or other extracurricular activities. If a student resists to participate in drug test, the school treats it as a failed drug test. The student in question cannot participate in any school-related activities.
Students should be cognizant of their rights and their state’s law regarding student drug testing policies. Schools should take up the responsibility to create a safe environment for the students to learn and should not in anyway violate the student’s privacy.
Student Privacy Rights
There are many debates and controversies over students’ rights whether the teenagers and adolescents are qualified for full constitutional privileges or not. There are others who argue that schools should treat all of their students virtuously with the American constitutional rights. Schools usually don’t grant all students’ freedoms and rights, including freedom of speech and the right to privacy since most teens are less than 18 years old.
Students must be cognizant of their fundamental rights such as the right to talk freely in their school, the right to say or write one’s opinion, the right to express from a religious point of view, the right to due process if penalized, the right to privacy in addition to other liberties.
A school should have legal permission to do drug testing randomly on their students. The school cannot force a student to take part in random drug testing unless participating in any extracurricular activities or sports events. Other students cannot be subjected to drug testing unless there is appropriate evidence of abnormal physical or mental behavior to suspect that the student is under the influence of drugs.
Drug abuse is one of the major issues throughout the world. Despite implementation of strict regulations and monitoring of illicit drugs, drug users are able to access them and continue to engage in drug use.
Many schools have been struggling to combat drug use among students, and the drug use has caused many students to skip school and get involved in drug-related incidents leading to accidents, arrests and even death.
Drug testing is done as a precautionary measure to ensure the school continues to remain a safer place for the students. The school’s role is not only to provide education, but also to protect students against any harm, and provide them with a safe and drug free learning environment.
Random drug testing is one method that may allow schools to achieve sustainable reduction in drug use among students. It may be the first step to provide help to those who may already be engaged in drug use, and will have an opportunity to change their ways and undergo necessary treatment.
A recent survey shows a decline in drug abuse among students, which is a good sign that these children are looking after themselves. Educational programs should be implemented in schools to provide awareness regarding negative effects of the illicit substances and alcohol.
Parents should also have a good relationship with their children and spend quality time to know what is going on in their children’s lives. The more the parents attend to their children, the less the children will commit wrongful activities.