Pass or Fail? Should We Drug-Test in School’s?

Paul Pike Blog ImageStudents, drug use…and testing.


Naturally, the topic can create quite a buzz, not only for the user, but also in regards to political thought and public opinion. Even Presidents have been known to weigh in on the subject of kids and drugs, and to no surprise, they’ve held varying opinions and stances. 


In January 2014, President Obama said that he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer,” he told The New Yorker magazine during an interview. 


Recently, our team at Mobile Drug Testing Nashville was curious and decided to try our hand at some local research on this issue. After making a few calls and speaking with local schools, we discovered that 40% of the private schools were currently participating in student drug testing, while less than 10% of the Public schools had committed to the process.


One athletic director who took our call was in favor, but admitted the institution he worked for was too fearful of the legal side (i.e.: the lawsuits) and, therefore, was unwilling to implement drug testing. He did state, however, that they’d be interested to learn about the schools and places that are trying to make it work and would like to know how those institutions addressed the subject.


With this new information, we began to ask, “What actually is the law or policy in regards to this topic?” Here’s what we found:


  • 1988—Tennessee Legislature wrote in Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-4213: A student may be subject to testing for the presence of drugs in the body if there are reasonable indications to the principal that such student may have used or be under the influence of drugs.


  • 2002—A Supreme Court case upheld the authority of schools to test students who participate in extracurricular activities, like sports teams.


  • 2004—In President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address a $23 million plan was unveiled to increase testing in schools. It drew sharp criticism from some parents, school administrators and civil liberties activists. Bush’s plan had funded drug testing in eight school districts in Texas.


  • 2007—Tennessee School districts were instructed to comply with a revised code, Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-4213(a) and not conduct random drug testing. The Attorney General’s new interpretation read as follows: In the absence of reasonable indications that the student may have used or be under the influence of drugs, state law does not permit the student to be tested for drugs.


  • 2010—An article in the Commercial Appeal announced that the Tennessee legislature had now agreed to random drug tests for school students.  Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen signed a bill that would allow school districts to decide if they wanted to require drug testing for students participating in extracurricular activities.  According to the legislation, school districts would set their own drug-testing policies or decide whether they even wanted to participate in the program. Parents would receive letters at the start of the school year that outline the school district drug-testing policy. They would receive a second letter if their child was picked to be tested and would have to agree to drug testing before it was done.


If anything, the discussion, at the least, stimulates thought. It begins the conversation, if you will. The bottom line? It’s all about catching drug use in an adolescent while there’s still hope. Members of the medical community will confirm, it’s dangerous for children and young adults to be experimenting with drug substances while their body and brain are still developing.


One Germantown High School began doing random drug tests on students involved in extracurricular activities in the early 1990s. The Principal was quoted as saying, “The biggest reason we did it was to educate our students and community. We never did it for punishment.” The school was known to test over 600 students annually who were involved in athletics, cheerleading, band and fine arts. 


What are your thoughts on this issue? 

  • Would you support student drug testing? 
  • Would you be in favor of your child’s school drug testing? 
  • Would you support testing only for suspicion purposes or random testing in order to discern early use?


If a school your child has attended has participated in drug testing, we’d love to hear about your experience with those programs. We welcome any thoughts you might have to add to this topic.


Paul Pike | President

USA Mobile Drug Testing of Nashville

O: 615-777-9297 |C: 615-500-7134 | F: 866-610-8567

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