March 25, 2004

School Drug Testing

by Nick Morgan

I share Talkleft's concern about the suspicionless drug testing of students in Arkansas, and although I'd like the testing scheme to be blocked by the 4th Amendment, it looks like the Supreme Court has already pretty squarely decided the issue the other way in Veronia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995).

Apparently the Arkansas school's policy is "to randomly drug test students in grades 7-12 in extracurricular activities," which is pretty much the same testing scheme upheld in Veronia. The Veronia Court, however, seemed particularly impressed by the factually established drug problem at the school, and by supported contentions that school athletes were leaders of the drug culture. It's unclear whether the Arkansas school can make a similar showing.

The suit challenging this testing scheme looks to be playing up the fact that "[t]here are no scientific studies that show suspicionless testing of students in extracurricular activities works" and Talkleft points to an article suggesting that studies actually show that drug-testing is useless. Such factual demonstrations could be quite powerful in persuading the Court to rethink its inclusion of drug-testing in the "special needs" class of cases that get special leniency under the 4th Amendment.

March 25, 2004 08:56 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Board of Education v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002) goes beyond the athletes-as-leaders model and applies it to all extracurricular activities.

Interesting stuff. I dispute in part that article that claims drug testing is useless. It cites this statistic: "37% of high school seniors had tried marijuana in schools with drug testing; in schools without drug testing, 36% had tried marijuana." Since "trying marijuana" may or may not show up on a drug test (and thus the test would have no deterrant value against it), while continuing marijuana use certainly would (which may be deterred by drug testing), I don't know how similar percentages of trying a drug necessarily proves drug testing is useless. However, since the test results may be better than the test the article chose to use as an example, I cannot pass judgment on the claim.

Posted by: Matto Ichiban at March 25, 2004 09:36 PM

Thanks for the pointer to Earls--I thought there was such a case out there, but all I came up with was Miller ex. rel. Miller v. Wilkes, 172 F.3d 574 (8th Cir. 1999) which also upholds testing for all extracurricular activities even without a showing that the school has a drug problem. Arkansas is part of the 8th Circuit, so if Miller is good law on this point, the suit faces pretty serious obstacles.

About the study, I assume "tried marajuana" means "used it at least once." And the possibility that using it only once might not show up on a test (and thus not deter such use) cuts both ways: it suggests that random testing DOESN'T deter with respect to trying it once (a point scored for opponents of drug-testing), and it might also suggest that althhough testing doesn't reduce the total number of students who try weed, it could still reduce the subset of student-experimenters who go on to use it more than once, a subset apparently not accounted for by the study (sort of a point scored for supporters of drug-testing). So yeah, I think your criticism is right; but perhaps the study also collected data about students who smoked weed more than 10 times, I dunno.

Posted by: Nick Morgan at March 25, 2004 09:55 PM

I NEED A STATISTIC ON DRUG TESTING IN SCHOOL FOR a debate i am for it and my partner is against , i just need a good statistic to open the topic with, if you could please someone tell me one.

Posted by: Dawn at October 20, 2004 12:12 PM

I personally think that the schools should but of the drug testing thing.....I mean the schools already have to cut budgets a lot...Plus...even if they did test kids...they would still do it, thus defeating the whole purpose.

Posted by: Shawnda at November 10, 2004 02:48 PM

After reading your posts I thought it would be interesting for you all to look at http://www.drug-testing-center.com - wheather someone tries pot once or many times doesn't mean that their test can't be made clean.

Well just thought I would get that out.

Posted by: Problem Solver at November 19, 2004 03:38 PM


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Posted by: OEM Software at June 3, 2005 01:22 PM

im against drug testing. it violates our 4th ammendment and it gives the youth an environment w/o trust.

Posted by: cathy pink at November 24, 2005 02:49 AM
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