Should schools drug test students?

Should Schools Drug Test Students? Local communities and School Boards all over Ohio are confronted with the issue of drug use among its students. The U.S. Office of Adolescent Health published a report claiming that 43 percent of Ohio high school students have used marijuana one or more times during their lifetime. (View the report at Reports of use of other substances such as alcohol, prescription medication and narcotics have also been found at levels that cause concern.

The question of drug testing in schools has been raised time and time again. In Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of random drug testing of students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. See also Board of Education v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002). Students who do not participate in extracurricular activities may also be tested if the school has reasonable suspicion that the student is using drugs. See New Jersey v. T. L. O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985). These cases are interpreting federal law only. What complicates the issue is that the legality of school drug testing also depends on state and local laws.

What do you think?

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Here are some of the arguments we have heard for and against drug testing in school. 

For Testing:

  • Testing helps eliminate drugs in school.

  • Drug testing students in school will disincentivize drug use.

  • Drug testing will help bring up grades and the school’s overall test scores.

  • It is the school’s job to educate, so why should they not educate the students about drugs?

  • The possibility of being tested gives students a concrete reason to say no to drugs.

Against Testing:

  • It may increase the drop-out rate.

  • Substance use does not necessarily have a negative effect on a student’s ability to do well in school.

  • A school’s priority should be education. Let the parents deal with personal issues like drug use.

  • Schools should not arbitrarily drug test students unless a student gives them reason to do so.

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