An Analysis of Random Student Drug Testing Policies and Patterns of Practice In Virginia Public Schools

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Virginia Tech

There were two purposes to this study. First, the study was designed to determine which Virginia public school districts have articulated policies that govern random drug testing of students and if school districts' policies aligned with U.S. Supreme Court standards and Virginia statutes. The second purpose was to ascertain the patterns of practice in selected Virginia school districts that currently conduct random drug testing of students. This included identifying which student groups were being tested and for which drugs. It was also of interest to learn how school districts monitor the testing program and if drug testing practices were aligned with the policies that govern them. Data were gathered by examining student handbooks and district policies in order to determine which school districts had drug testing policies. These policies then were analyzed using a legal framework constructed from U.S. Supreme Court standards that have emerged from case law governing search and seizure in schools. Finally, data on patterns of practice were collected through in-depth interviewing and observation of those individuals responsible for implementing student drug testing in those districts that have such programs. The analyses revealed that the current policies and patterns of practice in random drug testing programs in Virginia public schools comply with Supreme Court standards and state statutes. Student groups subject to testing in Virginia public schools include student athletes and students in extracurricular activities in grades eight through twelve. Monitoring systems in the school districts implementing random drug testing were not consistent. There is evidence that the school districts implementing random drug testing programs have strong community support for the program.

Student Rights, Fourth Amendment, Random Drug Testing