Pubdate: Fri, 29 Mar 2002
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2001 Detroit Free Press
Author: Steven Kaplan
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Your March 25 editorial opposing the random drug testing of students was
reasonable ("Drugs in Schools: Random testing of students is wrong
response"). A case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court concerns whether
public school officials can impose random drug tests on students involved in
extracurricular, nonathletic activities, such as the marching band or the
drama club. 

Our nation's highest court already has ruled that a school district can
require student athletes to undergo random drug tests. That ruling makes
sense, because a student's health can be imperiled by being under the
influence of drugs during an athletic contest or practice. 

The same rationale does not apply to nonathletic events. In fact, students
who participate in after-school activities involving music, art, drama and
debate not only are to be commended, but they also are less likely to use
illegal substances than students who do not participate in extracurricular

Public school districts currently are permitted to subject any student to a
search, whether of his locker or backpack, or to a random drug tests, as
long as the school officials have a legitimate reason, known as "reasonable
suspicion," to suspect that the student is using, possessing or selling

On the other hand, school officials should not be permitted to engage in
invasive procedures to determine whether students participating in
after-school, nonathletic activities have used alcohol or drugs unless
evidence exists that a student indeed is using alcohol, marijuana, cocaine
or another substance. 

We should be encouraging, not discouraging, students to widen their horizons
and enhance their skills by engaging in varied extracurricular student
programs. If students know they may be required, at any time and not based
on any evidence, to provide urine samples to school officials for drug
testing, they are less likely to partake in school programs and pursuits. 

Steven Kaplan, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Macomb County

Mt. Clemens
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