Term Paper: Cons of Drug Testing in Schools

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¶ … negative aspects of drug testing in schools. The Supreme Court has upheld drug testing in schools as legal and permissible, especially among school athletes. However, there are many negative aspects of drug testing in schools, some of which are the actual accuracy of the tests, the competence of the individuals administering the tests, and the actual integrity of the samples. In addition, drug testing in the schools sends the wrong message to American youth. It teaches them to be duplicitous and deceptive, rather than forthright and honest, and it teaches them their rights can be violated, or at least manipulated, even under the Forth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which dictates against unlawful search and seizure except in times of war or distress. Drug testing in schools falls under neither of these categories, and that may be the most negative aspect of the process for American youth.

Two relatively recent Supreme Court decisions relate to the constitutionality of drug testing in public schools. They are the Vernonia School District v. Acton ruled on in 1995, and the Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls ruled on in 2002. These are references as Vernonia and Earls hereafter (Yacoubian, 2003). One ruling determined schools may drug test participants in school athletic programs (Vernonia), and the other determined schools may test participants in any school extracurricular activities, too (Earls). Thus, schools may test students who give up their free time for school activities, such as band members, cheerleaders, club members, and honor society members. The legal aspects are still being challenged, and their constitutionality, while upheld by the courts, is still questionable to many people.

One of the arguments against testing was the way urine samples were obtained from students, and if this was overly intrusive. In both cases, the court ruled it was not, and, "that the method of the collection caused, at worst, a negligible intrusion. Moreover, a positive test had no criminal justice implications" (Yacoubian, 2003). Therein lays one of the main negative aspects of drug testing in the schools. If the drug testing does not lead to criminal proceedings for illegal drugs, then what is the main point of the testing? If students test positive more than once, most school districts will deny them access to their extracurricular activities, and this is the only result of the testing. Many schools deem the testing a "safety" issue, and note they are responsible for the safety of the participants, even in after school activities. The implication is that a student using illicit drugs might cause harm to other students, and the school district would be libel. It seems that situations like this could occur, but the likelihood of their occurrence is extremely low, and does not warrant the infringement of rights that occurs when drug testing takes place. Another testing expert, Bob Shoop, a professor of educational administration at Kansas State University, says, "Courts have ruled that drug tests are a search. A search is a privacy issue, and there has to be a clear reason for the search" ("Mandatory Drug Testing Violates," 1996). The courts have since ruled on this issue, and found that drug testing does not constitute a search, but there are still many Americans who do not agree, and it seems certain drug testing will show its face in court again.

Many other negative aspects of drug testing add to the reasons it should not continue in schools. One of the most important of these aspects is the ultimate reliability of the tests themselves. First, many drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine, LSD, and even Darvon, only remain in the body a short time, and so, testing during the school week may not indicate weekend use (Editors, 2002). In addition, many conditions can create "false-positive" readings in the tests. For example, some chemicals or prescriptions can create positive readings that mimic some illegal drugs, and that may implicate innocent students, and create legal issues for the school and the school district.

Another negative aspect of the testing process is the competency of the individual administering the test, and the ability of students to alter samples. Many students… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Cons of Drug Testing in Schools."  Essaytown.com.  November 10, 2005.  Accessed July 23, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cons-drug-testing-schools/420529.