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Drug Testing in Ohio Public Schools, Is it Legal?

By Katie Schultz

August 11, 2015 - 1:32 PM




Since the late 1980's, some schools nationwide have administered drug tests to their students due to an increase in drug use, mostly among athletes.

Administering randomized drug tests in public schools has been controversial because people believe it violates the student's Fourth Amendment right which protects them against "unreasonable searches and seizures". However, the 1995 Supreme Court case, Vernonia v. Acton, ruled that it is not unconstitutional for schools to implement randomized drug testing on their athletes- the schools have a right to ensure the well being of their students by eliminating drug and alcohol use.

In 2002, once again the United States Supreme Court made a landmark decision in the case, Board of Education v. Earls, ruling that random drug testing on students involved in extracurricular activities is constitutional.

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, it is illegal to implement a random test on specific individuals who do not show any signs of being under the influence. The only way it is lawful is if that individual shows signs of impaired behavior due to suspected drug or alcohol use.

Since these rulings, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, around 30% of school districts that enroll middle and high schools have some sort of drug testing policy in place for their students.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), as of December 2014, the percentage of middle and high school students nationwide using illicit drugs decreased from 34.1 percent in 1997, to 27.2 percent.

Several Ohio public schools have created a drug testing policy in which students who participate in extracurricular activities might be subjected to random drug testing, as have schools nationwide.

In a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 17% of American students partake in drinking, smoking, and using drugs during the school day. If a student comes back with a positive drug test, schools have the option to require that student to attend counseling in order to prevent further drug use according to the NIH. However, if a student is caught with drugs or alcohol on school grounds, disciplinary action, such as expulsion, might be taken.

Ohio is one example of the many states nationwide that have put policies in place to create a safe environment and better its students' lives in a legal manner.

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