Imposition Of Punitive Punishments For Student Drug Test Failures Conflict With Federal Guidelines

Chapel Hill, NC–(ENEWSPF)–March 5, 2010.  More than one-half of school districts that randomly drug test their students impose punitive punishments for test failures that are contrary to federal advisory guidelines, according to a national study published in the Journal of School Health and summarized in the January 2010 online edition of the NIDA (National Institutes on Drug Abuse) News Scan.

Researchers at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in North Carolina analyzed data from a national sample of 1,922 school districts, of which 205 administered suspicionless drug testing programs to the student body. Authors found that more than half of the districts that enacted random drug testing imposed severely punitive punishments upon those students with test failures.

Many districts “reported consequences contraindicated by federal advisory guides, such as notifying law enforcement officials (45.1%) and suspending the student from an athletic team (65.0%) or from school (31.0%),” investigators reported – noting that schools that contacted police following a positive test result engaged in “a serious breach of protocol.”

Commenting on the study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Random student drug testing is a humiliating, invasive, and expensive practice that may inadvertently drive at-risk students toward socially deviant behavior through the misuse of these type of punitive sanctions.”