Are we Seeing an Increase in School-based Random Drug Testing?
By Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CHC, CPC, CPCO
Although summer is in full swing, many school districts around the country continue to review policies and determine which ones to implement in the fall.
A quick glance at the news finds one issue cropping up more often these days – school-based drug testing. From Florida to New Jersey, school boards are considering the addition of random drug testing for students.
In Monroe County, Fla., the school board recently voted to continue a policy approved the previous year but suspended after Hurricane Irma hit the Keys last year. The policy allows for random drug testing for marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines for athletes and students in groups connected to sports, that would include cheerleaders and band members.
In Woodbridge, N.J., the school board is considering a policy that would allow for the random drug and alcohol testing of students in grades nine to 12 who participate in athletics and co-curricular programs, as well as seniors with a parking permit.
In Mooresville, N.C., the school board unanimously approved the “Random Suspicion less Student Drug Testing” policy for middle and high school students who are active in interscholastic athletics, extracurricular activities and who park on campus. Parents can also request that their child be tested, even if the student does not participate in any of the mentioned activities.
And, a school district in Southlake, Texas is asking parents their thoughts on implementing a school-based random drug testing program.
Although random drug testing of students is nothing new, there appears to be a renewed push heading into the 2018-19 school year. For the most part, random drug testing in schools is geared toward prevention. The idea being that if students know there is a chance they will be tested and possibly caught using drugs, they are more likely to say no, particularly in cases where peer pressure is involved. With a rising overdose death rate fueled by opioids, it’s more important than ever to make sure schools play a role in deterring the use of drugs.
However, before implementing a program, school boards would be well advised to follow important guidelines to ensure their testing program is instituted properly. Random drug testing should not be used alone or strictly as punishment, but as part of a program that includes intervention and treatment. If a random drug testing policy is implemented, it should be in writing, students and faculty should be educated about the policy, and how testing is to be conducted. Counseling and follow-up testing also are an important part of any such program.
Although there are no federal laws regarding school-based drug testing, there are two Supreme Court cases that permit public schools to conduct drug testing in certain circumstances:
- In 1995, the high court ruled that it was legal for schools to randomly test student athletes.
- In 2002, the Supreme Court expanded on that ruling to include students who participate in a competitive extracurricular activity.
Schools interested in implementing such programs would also be wise to look at individual state laws to ensure proper compliance.
Most schools that do test for drugs use urine-based screening. If you are developing a program for random student drug testing, give us a call. Innovative Laboratory Solutions, the maker of the EZ Test Cup, has 20-plus years of manufacturing experience behind it. Our standard cups come with a built-in thermometer and test for the following drugs: Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, Opiates, Oxycodone, Methadone, Amphetamines, Barbiturates, PCP, MDA, MET and BZO. Custom cups also are available. Contact us today for more information at email@example.com or call 561-218-4646.
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