School district drug policies

School district drug policies are measures that administrators of a school district put into place in order to discourage drug use by students.

Background

Over the decades of the War on Drugs in the United States, primary and secondary school drug and alcohol policies have become increasingly strict, in punishment and in the kinds of behavior regulated. Some school districts include off-campus and out-of-school behavior in their policy's jurisdiction. These policies are frequently part of comprehensive "Drug and alcohol" policies, and are particularly common in urban school districts.

Aspects of the policies may include random drug testing, searches of lockers and personal effects, anti-drug education (e.g., "Just Say No" curricula), and punitive measures including expulsion and suspension.

Advocates of random drug testing argue that it is not just a punitive measure, but may deter drug use. Opponents, however, have argued that drugs commonly used by students, such as alcohol, MDMA, and prescription drugs are either not detected by the tests or are metabolized within a short period of time.Fact|date=December 2007

There are about 600 school districts in about 15,000 nationwide that use drug tests, according to officials from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.Fact|date=December 2007 White House officials liken drug testing to programs that screen for tuberculosis or other diseases, and said students who test positive don't face criminal charges.

Legal challenges

Civil libertarians have raised concerns with these policies, citing student civil rights and student privacy as principle objections. These cases have resulted in a number of legal challenges in the United States, as well as in related case law (e.g., "Morse v. Frederick", the so-called "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case").

In a 1995 case, "Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton", the Supreme Court upheld the legality of random drug tests of student athletes who were not suspected of drug use. The Court reasoned that because school athletes routinely face mandatory physicals and other similar invasions of privacy, they have lower expectations of privacy than the average student. The Court specified that its decision should not be seen as a justification for further expansion of drug testing programs.

In the 2002 case Board of Education v. Earls the Supreme Court extended the holding in "Vernonia", holding that all students who participate in voluntary activities, like cheerleading, band, or debate, could be subjected to random tests as part of a comprehensive program. The Court, in an opinion by Justice Thomas, stated that the diminished expectations of privacy of athletes was less important to their decision in "Vernonia" than a school's innate custodial responsibility and authority over its students. ["Board of Education of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls".]

Case study

In late 2001, in Ashland, Oregon, the Ashland School Board enacted a Drug and Alcohol Policy for students in leadership positions, igniting a local controversy. The policy extended to off-campus and after-school conduct, but the controversy reached the general efficacy and constitutionality of drug testing policies.

Opposing the policy were local student groups and the local Oregon American Civil Liberties Union, which had advocated on behalf of various students expelled by the Ashland School District for drug use in May 2001 at a national forensics tournament. Students at Ashland High School argued that their off campus behavior after school hours should have no effect on their academic standing.

To resolve the dispute, a community committee was formed, meeting for five months. The committee's recommendations lead to a rewriting of the Code of Conduct and a re-evaluation of the School District's entire Drug and Alcohol Policy.

References

* [http://www.dailytidings.com/2002/news0213/headline/dt_news-01.php Daily Tidings (February 2002 Coverage)]
* [http://www.dailytidings.com/2002/news0122/opinion/dt_opinion.php Daily Tidings (January 2002 Coverage)]
* [http://www.dailytidings.com/2002/news0117/headline/dt_news-01.php Daily Tidings (January 2002 Coverage)]
* [http://www.dailytidings.com/2002/news0108/headline/dt_news-02.php Daily Tidings (January 2002 Coverage)]
* [http://www.dailytidings.com/2002/news0105/headline/dt_news-01.php Daily Tidings (January 2002 Coverage)]
* [http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2002/january/010702n4.htm Mail Tribune (January 2002 Coverage)]
* [http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2001/october/102801n1.htm Mail Tribune (October 2001 Coverage) Article 1]
* [http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2001/october/102801n2.htm Mail Tribune (October 2001 Coverage) Article 2]
* [http://www.dailytidings.com/2001/news0912/community/dt_community-04.php Daily Tidings (September 2001 Coverage)]
* [http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2001/september/091101n1.htm Mail Tribune (September 2001 Coverage)]
* [http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2001/july/073101n1.htm Mail Tribune (July 2001 Coverage) Article 1]
* [http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2001/july/072301n2.htm Mail Tribune (July 2001 Coverage) Article 2]

ee also

* Legal issues of cannabis
* Prohibition (drugs)
* Students for Sensible Drug Policy
* Zero-tolerance policy
* Drug policy reform

References

External links

* [http://www.ndsn.org/sepoct98/test1.html Supreme Court Case on Drug Testing in Schools]
* [http://www.november.org November Coalition] Working to end drug war injustice
* [http://www.ehealtharticle.com/articledetail.php?artid=12&catid=192 Marijuana Drug Testing at Schools]
* [http://www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/testing/10842res20021021.html Drug Testing Cases]
* [http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/journal/schooldrug.htm School Drug Testing in an Era of Oral Fluid Analysis]


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