Legal Barriers Gone, Student Drug Testing On The Rise


The number of schools testing students for drug use is rising as legal barriers to testing have fallen, says USA Today. Funding for it has jumped and schools have begun to expand the categories of students who can be screened. Since a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that random testing of student athletes and others in competitive extracurricular activities did not violate the students’ privacy rights, the Bush administration has made testing middle- and high-school students a priority. In the 2005-06 school year, 373 public secondary schools got federal money for testing, up from 79 schools two years ago. The White House estimates that an additional 225 local schools also test.

The number of public secondary schools with testing programs remains a tiny percentage of the 28,000 schools nationwide. Many districts have been reluctant to impose testing, fearing they could face challenges in state courts. Several states’ constitutions include privacy rights that go beyond what federal courts have granted, says Graham Boyd of the American Civil Liberties Union Drug Law Reform Project. It’s unclear how many students are testing positive for drugs. This fall, nearly all 575 students in the Nettle Creek school district’s secondary school in Hagerstown, In., will be subject to random testing – not only athletes and students in clubs, but also those who drive to campus and anyone who wants to attend a school dance, prom, or class party.


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