Drug testing in schools is a controversial topic with apparently few positive results. The topic is so controversial that a case went to the Supreme Court and was ruled on in 2002. The ruling basically stated that any student engaged in competitive extra-circular activities could constitutionally be required to take a drug test. This ruling is deemed ambiguous by several parents who claim that certain schools use the vague guideline to test almost any student. Furthermore, the drug tests show little evidence of deterring or stopping drug use amongst students.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, drug tests in schools were typically reserved for students involved in athletics. As the scope of students chosen for testing expanded, parents began to voice their concerns about the constitutionality of such testing in schools. Once the Supreme Court ruling was made, schools began to push the boundaries set forth by the Court. Schools started to test not only athletes, but also those involved in academic competitions, clubs, band, and even students who drive to school. The legality of testing these segments of the student body has yet to be challenged legally but is certainly on the horizon.
The efficacy of drug testing in schools is another contested point in the controversy. The general objective of administering drug tests in school is to deter drug use and abuse among students. Statistics are showing that the level of deterrence is not very significant, especially among the demographic of students that are not legally eligible for testing. Among those students who are subject to legal testing, the minimal level of deterrence has been shown to be temporary and have no long-term deterrent effects. One valid and interesting point, that has been made by parents and experts, is that the most dangerous drug to students, alcohol, is not a drug that is tested.
Ultimately, the decision to test students for drugs, by school administration, is still controversial regardless of the Supreme Court ruling. The legality of certain schools testing is still in question. The efficacy of testing as a deterrent to drug use is also in question. The only thing that seems to be certain is the exorbitant costs of drug testing in schools.