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Recent Study Finds That a Substantial Number of Public School Districts Conduct Random Drug Testing with High School Students

CALVERTON, Md., April 2, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A substantial proportion of the nation's public school districts have instituted random drug testing among their high school students, some possibly going beyond sanctions set by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a study led by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). These sanctions limit testing to students involved in sports and extracurricular activities.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, includes data collected from 1,343 drug prevention coordinators in a nationally representative sample of school districts that include high school students. Fourteen percent of the nation's school districts reported conducting random drug testing of students in high school grades in the 2004-2005 academic year.

Nearly all school districts that implemented random drug testing procedures subjected their athletes to the possibility of being tested, and two-thirds randomly tested high school students who participated in other extracurricular activities. More than a quarter of the districts that implemented random drug testing subjected all their high school students to the possibility of being tested.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that testing student athletes for drugs is constitutional, even in the absence of any suspicion of substance use. In a subsequent case, the Court extended its ruling to include students participating in extracurricular activities.

"Random student drug testing will likely continue to be controversial and the practice is likely to be contested, just as we saw with the recent ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court," said Dr. Chris Ringwalt, Senior Research Scientist at PIRE. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled on March 13, 2008, based on a lawsuit that student athletes brought against a local school district, that random drug testing of student athletes is not allowed under the state's constitution, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's 1995 ruling (Supreme Court of the State of Washington. York v. Wahkiakum School District No. 200. Docket No: 99-2-00075-6, March 13, 2008).

Dr. Ringwalt concluded, "This study will provide a benchmark for monitoring the prevalence of random drug testing of high school students in the future."

SOURCE Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
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