The increase of random drug testing in public middle and high schools across the country is an alarming trend. While Connecticut and New York do not currently allow random drug testing, the prospect is looming as neighboring states, like New Jersey, have adopted widespread and successful random drug testing plans. With federal reports indicating that as many as one new school district a month adds random drug testing to its policies, students and parents must be vigilant and oppose these blatant invasions of privacy and parental rights.
The popularity of random drug testing in public schools has increased dramatically in recent years in the aftermath of a 2002 Supreme Court decision allowing random drug testing for students who participate in extracurricular activities. While testing athletes for performance enhancing drugs is one thing, new school policies go so far as to test all students involved in any extracurricular activity, as well as those students exercising any school privileges – such as use of the school parking lot. It is in this way that schools deceptively make the drug tests voluntary, as students can only waive a drug test by conceding school privileges. This is an unfortunate abuse of power that infringes on the students’ right to privacy.
One of the most important rights we have as Americans is an inherent right to privacy. While there are limits to what kind of drug testing should be allowed, even staunch opponents of school testing will still condone a random drug test if a student is assumed to be under the influence at school. However, random tests of students, when no visible disruption is seen in their behavior at school, is a violation of their privacy. In some school districts in New Jersey, they have begun using a new test that is so sensitive that it can detect alcohol in a student’s body even if the student consumed the alcohol Friday night and was tested Monday morning.
Tests like these, which measure or indicate what a student has done outside of school and off school property, overstep the boundaries of acceptability. Public schools are only charged with keeping their students safe in school – if students are coming to school drunk, that is a problem, but if they are drinking, or consuming illegal drugs for that matter, outside of school and they are not disrupting the classroom environment, then they have the right to do that without fear of repercussions in school. Schools are designed as a means to educate the young members of our society. They are not designed to enforce the local and federal drug laws of our society, and thus, should not be used for that purpose.
The Daily Campus University of Connecticut U-Wire