The United States Supreme Court upheld a public school district's authority to randomly drug test middle and high school students who participate in extracurricular activities. The court held that random drug testing is an effective means of meeting the school district's legitimate concern regarding detecting and preventing illegal drug use by students. This ruling greatly expands public school's drug testing policies.

Are All Public Schools Required to Conduct Random Drug Tests?

A school is not mandated to randomly drug test students who participate in extracurricular activities. But a school district has the choice to implement a drug testing policy. The school district or the school board usually enacts the drug testing policy the same way other school regulations are enacted.

What Types of School Drug Testing Programs Are There?

There are two main types of drug testing programs, voluntary drug testing programs and mandatory drug testing programs, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.The following are the most common attributes of each:

  • Voluntary drug testing
    - Usually, students elect to participate in a program of random drug testing to reduce punishment for using an illegal substance.
    - School policy determines when testing is to occur, how often testing will occur, and who pays for the testing.
  • Mandatory drug testing
    - Applies only to students who participate in extracurricular activities (e.g., sports).
    - School policy determines when and how often testing will to occur. Usually, the school policy is to test the entire team at the beginning of the season and to randomly test a certain percentage of the team during the season.

Are Government Certified Drug Testing Laboratories Required?

Government certified testing facilities can certify the accuracy of the results and should be used. Any lab used by a school also should be certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

What Happens if I Fail a Drug Test?

It depends on the school's drug testing program and policies. Usually, a student that fails a drug test is prohibited from participating in extracurricular activities for the rest of the season.

What Should I Do if I Fail a Drug Test?

If you fail a drug test (test positive), deny that you have taken any illegal substances and demand a retest. Drug tests are unreliable and many people who have never used drugs have tested positive for drugs (called a false positive).

Do I Need a Lawyer for my Drug Testing Problems?

If you or your child is concerned about drug testing in your schools, contact a criminal lawyer to learn more about your school's regulations and your rights. A lawyer near you can help you fight a false positive or appeal a disciplinary ruling.