Michigan school district approves random drug testing

Earlier in December, the Plainwell Board of Education in Michigan had approved a new drug and nicotine testing policy for high school students who wish to join extracurricular activities, such as athletic or music programs, National Honor Society, and clubs. Members of the board had voted 5-2 to approve the random drug testing policy, which, according to the district, is implemented with the aim to deter drug use among students.

“The primary purpose of the drug testing policy is to provide a healthy and safe environment for all interscholastic extracurricular activity participants and provide parents and students with the tools and supports to remain drug-free and healthy,”

From the Plainwell Board of Education policy

The new policy allows for tests of students’ urine for cannabis, opioids, nicotine, and drugs such as methamphetamine. According to the policy, involvement in high school sports and other extracurricular activities is “a privilege, not a right.”

At an earlier meeting in November, the policy was subject to board discussion and public comment from parents. During the meeting, Plainwell High School Principal Jeremy Wright said that the high school has witnessed a “huge increase” in vaping. However, approval of the new policy faced some criticism from a group of parents, some of whom have proposed working collaboratively with the school board to create another policy which addresses the current concerns.

“We do truly have our kids in mind,” one parent said to the school board. “We want to work together. And we may disagree how that goes, but I think Plainwell is a great community. I think if we come together we can be stronger than this.”

Parents had voiced concerns about the chances of receiving false positive results, as well as concerns regarding whether testing would deter students from joining sports or other extracurricular activities. Moreover, other parents questioned why only certain students would be subject to get tested.

According to a 2002 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, schools have the constitutional jurisdiction to carry out random drug testing if it is only carried out for students participating in “competitive extracurricular activities.”

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