A school district in Texas plans to make drug testing mandatory for students who want to participate in sports, activities, clubs and any other extracurricular activities. Despite the fact that there is no apparent drug or alcohol problem in the school, the policy is supposedly being put into place to prevent any such problems from arising.
Bushland Independent School District officials say they will enforce mandatory drug and alcohol testing for all students in grades 7 through 12 who want to participate in after school activities. Whether students want to join chess club or play football, school officials say that these activities are privileges that should warrant a drug test.
“The board wants to be proactive,” Bushland superintendent Chris Wigington told a local ABC affiliate. “They want our kids to have a drug free environment, we want our kids to make great decisions.”
The decision to drug test students is one that many educational and civil rights organizations take issue with. In the past, the National Education Association has called mandatory drug testing in schools “an unwarranted and unconstitutional invasion of privacy.” The American Academy of Pediatrics also opposes mandatory drug testing on students, calling the idea a “deterioration in the student-school relationship, confidentiality of students’ medical records, and mistakes in interpreting drug tests that can result in false-positive results.” Unsurprisingly, the ACLU has also spoken out against such a requirement for students.
A common theme among these educational and civil rights groups is that participation in after-school and extracirruclar activities is a great way to help keep our young people from trying potentially dangerous drugs in the first place. Adding a requirement like this can possibly defeat that purpose while implying to students that they are guilty before proven innocent.
The Bushland school district’s decision to enforce mandatory drug testing on students is a bit of a contradiction because the Lone Star state is slowly catching up with the rest of America when it comes to the legal status of cannabis. In June, Tarrant County officials dismissed about 200 cannabis-related misdemeanor cases, in a commendable move that is long overdue for the state.
According to the school’s official policy, students who want to join football, theater, cheerleading, cross country, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, track, power-lifting, chess, band, choir, debate, gaming club, yearbook, or student council will be drug tested. If they decline, they could face repercussions such as an assumption of a failed test. The school will be enforcing either saliva or urine testing for a wide variety of drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, heroin, and opiates.