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Is It Legal for Schools to Drug Test Their Students?

Student walking down a school hallway

Although there have been no changes in federal legal perspectives since 2002, drug testing in schools is on the rise.1 Students and parents alike are concerned about this trend, and this growing confusion about the rights of students who fail to pass a drug test allows this questionable practice to continue.

If you or a student you know is facing drug testing in school, it is important to understand the legal factors involved and the strategies available to avoid the embarrassment, social stigma, and legal consequences associated with failing a random drug test.

Let’s delve into the legality of school drug testing vs. students’ constitutional rights.

Student Drug Testing Defined

There are two types of drug testing that take place in schools, and there is a fine line determining the legality of each.

  • Reasonable Suspicion (Reasonable Cause) Testing

A student may be asked to pass a drug test if school officials have reasonable cause to suspect illegal drug use, based on physical symptoms or abnormal behavior. Students may be excluded from extracurricular activities if they refuse to comply.

  • Random Student Drug Testing

Students may be required to pass a drug test as a condition of participation in extracurricular activities or student events such as dances, or they may be asked to sign away their right to privacy and be subject to random drug testing in order to participate in these activities.

What Drugs Will Show Up on a School Drug Test?

A typical drug test panel will include 5 to 10 drug tests, looking for the metabolites or chemical residues that indicate the past use of:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids (heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, and other prescription painkillers)
  • Amphetamines (methamphetamines, Ritalin, Adderall, and other prescription stimulants)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Steroids
  • MDMA
  • GHB
  • Synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice and K2


Is It Legal for Your School to Require Drug Testing?

Students have a right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, just as adults do. Public schools cannot legally search students or their belongs without a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity or school rule violations. A drug test is a type of search under legal definitions.

Student constitutional rights have been upheld by the Supreme Court in cases where schools overstepped the legal bounds of search and seizure. However, in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court did broaden the school’s authority to drug test students based on school safety concerns. Under this ruling, middle and high school students who “participate in competitive extracurricular activities” may be subject to random school drug testing.1

Two teenage girls on a couch

Is Drug Testing of Students an Effective Prevention Strategy?

Many advocates for students oppose random drug testing programs in schools, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

They highlight the negative impacts these punitive drug policies have on students, including:2

  • Breach of privacy, including prescribed medications being identified on drug tests.
  • Detrimental consequences, including illegal suspension or expulsion for students who fail to pass a drug test.
  • Increased dropouts and truancy for students who fear the results of a random drug test.
  • Increased use of substances less likely to show up on a drug test, such as alcohol or new synthetic chemicals.
  • The ready availability of synthetic urine or other methods to change drug test results.
  • The use of available funds that could be better spent on prevention and education.
  • Denying students the opportunity to participate in athletic and extracurricular activities which promote a healthy lifestyle while tending to reduce drug use and anti-social behaviors.


The Blatant Misuse of Drug Testing

Unfortunately, this slippery slope opens the door for many misuses of the information obtained by student drug testing. Discrimination can also play a role in the supposedly random distribution of testing, as students may be selected based on their siblings’ behaviors, their cultural background, or as punishment for speaking out against the practice.

Additionally, students become accustomed to surrendering their constitutional rights at an early age, making them more tolerant of rights abuses and further invasions of privacy in their later lives. A urine drug test can be used to discriminate against pregnant women, to perform unauthorized genetic screenings, or even to falsely accuse and expel students or employees without visible cause.

Students are not supposed to be punished for a positive drug test, but many schools go on to expel students and/or report them to law enforcement. Our young people may be better served by learning how to legally defend their constitutional rights rather than being encouraged to surrender them without question.

When You Can’t Avoid a School Drug Test

Right or wrong, many students must undergo school drug testing, in order to participate in sports or school activities, and calling attention to themselves by refusing to comply might be unwise. Young people wondering how to pass a drug test have a variety of options available.

How to Pass a Urine Drug Test

A urine drug test measures the chemicals excreted when drugs are metabolized. Different substances have vastly different rates of metabolism, so some indicators disappear from the urine quickly, while others can last up to 100 days. Modern testing procedures also commonly check for the correct body temperature of the sample.

If you are concerned about the consequences of a urine drug test, consider these strategies:

  • Abstaining from the substance and using detox drinks and programs to cleanse the body of toxins if you have sufficient time to plan a response.
  • Being prepared for the unexpected with a high-quality concentrated synthetic urine substitute and a method to maintain normal body temperature.
  • Having a urine test additive like SPIKE! on hand for random situations where other methods might not be feasible.
  • Performing a self-test prior to scheduled testing to determine if you will pass or to defend against false positives.


Other Types of Drug Tests

Less common, but still of concern, are several other methods used for drug testing and random screening. These include testing saliva and hair for drug residues. There are professional products available, including mouth rinses, detoxifying chewing gum, and hair treatments or shampoos, to combat these techniques and help maintain your privacy.

Proven Products to Help You Pass a Drug Test

To find out more about the proactive testing products available, read up on these proven solutions:


Student baseball player sitting

Defending Your Right to Privacy as a Student

There is a rising debate over the constitutional rights of students and, while many may be under 18 years of age, legal advocates up to and including the Supreme Court have defended the constitutional rights of teenagers to freedom of speech and privacy.

It is your right as a student to speak up against injustice and peacefully protest school policies. Some states have stepped up to provide confirmation of their students’ right to privacy and to be free from random search and seizure. Other state laws may empower the school with greater authority to force drug testing as a requirement of extracurricular involvement.

One important lesson for students is that they should read consent forms and be familiar with their school policies to have the right information to make an informed decision. They may voluntarily choose to waive their rights in exchange for a full and rich educational experience, but they should do so with a full understanding.

It is normal to feel embarrassed if you are asked to undergo a drug test. That uncomfortable feeling arises because your privacy is precious and it is being invaded, not because you have necessarily done wrong. If there is no reasonable cause for the test, it is random and may not be legal in your state unless you are an athlete.

Clear and Safe Solutions from Clear Test

Rather than risk the negative consequences of random drug testing, including false positives, discrimination, and exclusion from educational opportunities, many students are taking advantage of the scientific solutions available to ensure a clean result. At ClearTest, we offer only the highest-quality proven products to protect your privacy.

Our billing and packaging are discreet, and overnight shipping is available. Call us toll-free at 1-800-248-5655 or contact us online to find out more about the solutions available to pass a urine drug test and protect your own or your child’s future!



Posted by A. Shapiro
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