An 11-year-old girl from Lancaster, Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit against the Solano School District over a random drug testing policy required for students participating in extracurricular activities such as musical groups and sports teams.
The girl and her parents are suing on the grounds of unconstitutional violation of privacy, and the girl has reportedly been removed from the school orchestra and chorus “because she won’t consent to having her urine screened on a random basis by school officials” (ABC).
Although it seems shocking to test middle schoolers for drugs, random drug testing in schools is not a new issue, although it is most common at the high school level. The 1995 Supreme Court Vernonina School District v. Acton verdict ruled in favor of random drug testing for school athletes, and a 1998 case expanded the ruling to include all extracurricular activities, not just sports.
What is the justification for testing students for drugs? Nearly all proponents of this practice believe that the threat of random drug testing will be enough to prevent students from taking drugs. But studies have shown that while random drug testing does seem to stop students from taking drugs in the short term, it does almost nothing to ensure long-term abstinence from drugs.
And for those students — like the middle schooler in Pennsylvania — who are conscious of their rights, drug testing can easily be seen as an invasion of privacy.
Obviously, no one wants kids to be using drugs. And many of the campaigns that try to steer children away from drugs and alcohol, such as D.A.R.E. and Above the Influence, have had questionable success in preventing drug use. But is mandatory drug testing in order to sing in the school choir really a viable solution?
What do you think? Is random drug testing in schools acceptable, or does the girl from Pennsylvania make a valid point by refusing to submit to the tests? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo credit: stevendepolo