Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jun 2002
Source: News Leader, The (VA)
Copyright: 2002 News Leader
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Youth)


The Supreme Court struck a resounding blow for fairness Thursday when they 
ruled that school districts should be able to conduct random drug tests on 
all students involved in extracurricular activities. Previously, only 
student athletes were required to submit to such tests. The question now is 
how much further will school districts be able to push the limits on future 
drug testing -- could random urinalysis tests eventually be administered to 
all students, whether they participate in extracurricular activities or 
not, and if so, what would the consequences be?

The purpose of random drug tests in most school districts that administer 
them is not to punish, but to prevent. They provide student athletes with a 
powerful incentive to stay drug-free and remain active in school athletics. 
There's no reason to believe that such testing won't have the same result 
on students who pursue non-athletic extracurricular activities, and no 
reason to single athletes out for scrutiny.

Samplings of several school districts across the country that now 
administer random drug testing to student athletes reveals an overwhelming 
pattern of conscientiousness toward young drug users that could serve as a 
model for deterrence. Ignoring some of the minutiae of the testing 
procedure (no testing except by written parental consent, choosing students 
by blind lottery, Social Security number, or other methods) and cutting to 
the chase, students who come up positive in random urinalysis testing 
generally are handled in the following fashion:

Following parental notification, student athletes and their parents must 
meet in conference with their school principal. The student athlete is 
given a choice: Be suspended from the team or participate in an assistance 
program while submitting to regular (usually weekly) urinalysis testing. A 
second positive drug test results in suspension from school athletics for 
the rest of the season, and in some districts, the next. A third violation 
results in suspension for two seasons, an eternity in high school sports.

Extending this type of drug testing (and its application of consequences) 
to all high school students involved in extracurricular activities seems 
not only fair to us, but a tremendously effective method of fighting the 
spread of drug use and abuse among our young people.

It is estimated that more than 50 percent of American high school students 
participate in some form of extracurricular activity; that's a lot of young 
people that could be motivated not to use drugs by virtue of having random 
drug testing policies in place; we'd like to see that number rise to 100 
percent -- every child, no matter whether they play football, are a member 
of the debate team, or just hang out should be kept drug-free, if at all 
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