With special regard to student athlete drug testing, in the past decade important decisions have been reached on the extent of the acceptability of this practice. In 2002, the Supreme Court heard Board of Education v. Earls, which initially came to the courts as a result of the complaint that a school’s mandatory urine testing policy to join extracurricular activities without sufficient cause to suspect drug abuse was unconstitutional. A narrow majority found this drug testing not to violate the Fourth Amendment.
Despite the constitutionality of student drug testing, however, questions about its prevalence in schools remain. On paper, drug testing serves two admirable purposes:
1) it eliminates the presence of dangerous drugs in our educational institutions and in the hands (and bodies) of America’s youths, and
2) it identifies drug users so they may receive counseling and treatment to address any drug problems they may have. However, research suggests that testing may not be all that effective on curbing rates of drug use.
A 2003 study conducted by the University of Michigan with a 900-school sample population found no statistically significant improvement to drug use percentages after instituting random drug test policies.
Not only may student drug testing not be effective, but it also may not be cost-effective either. Even if a school only employs student athlete drug testing, that still is going to cost money. Potentially, a school could be set back by thousands of dollars and only catch a handful of students, if that. With so many schools facing cuts, realistically the money spent on student drug testing may be better allocated to other school services.