How do some schools conduct drug testing?
Following models established in the workplace, some schools conduct random drug testing and/or reasonable suspicion/cause testing. This usually involves collecting urine samples to test for drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opioids (both heroin and prescription pain relievers).
In random testing, students are selected regardless of their drug use history and may include students required to do a drug test as a condition of participation in an extracurricular activity. In reasonable suspicion/cause testing, a student can be asked to provide a urine sample if the school suspects or has evidence that he or she is using drugs, such as:
- school officials making direct observations
- the student showing physical symptoms of being under the influence or patterns of abnormal or erratic behavior
Why do some schools conduct random drug tests?
Schools adopt random student drug testing to decrease drug misuse and illicit drug use among students. First, they hope random testing will serve as a deterrent and give students a reason to resist peer pressure to take drugs. Secondly, drug testing can identify teens who have started using illicit drugs and would benefit from early intervention, as well as identify those who already have drug problems and need referral to treatment. Using illicit drugs not only interferes with a student’s ability to learn, but it can also disrupt the teaching environment, affecting other students as well.
Is random drug testing of students legal?
In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the authority of public schools to test students for illegal drugs. 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.