A northwest Missouri school district has adopted a policy that will allow students involved in an extracurricular activity or student group to be randomly drug tested. This decision affects approximately 560 middle and high school students in the district.
The St. Joseph News-Press reports that there is a three-strikes policy that will go into effect this fall. "For the first positive test, the student will be suspended from extracurricular activities for 30 days. For a second positive result, there will be a 90-day activity suspension, and for a third positive result, there will be a year’s suspension from all extracurricular activities."
If a student isn't involved in an extracurricular activity, his or her parents can opt to have their child tested by the school. Steve Klotz, assistant superintendent of the district says he estimates that about 25 percent of Missouri school districts already do random drug screenings.
If you are wondering if this is legal, the answer is yes.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the authority of public schools to test students for illegal drugs. Voting 5 to 4 in Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the court ruled to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. The ruling greatly expanded the scope of school drug testing, which previously had been allowed only for student athletes.
Despite being legal, not everyone is a fan of randomly drug testing students. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 2007 they have "strong reservations about testing adolescents at school or at home and believes that more research is needed on both safety and efficacy before school-based testing programs are implemented."
The American Academy of Pediatrics also states that if schools put this practice into place, "more adolescent-specific substance abuse treatment resources are needed to ensure that testing leads to early rehabilitation rather than to punitive measures only."
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance notes that despite opposition, there has been success with random drug tests. "Students involved in extracurricular activities and subject to in-school drug testing reported less substance use than comparable students in high schools without drug testing."
Do you feel randomly drug testing students is a good idea or a violation of privacy?
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Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com