Corrected January 31, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS St. Louis) — A Kansas City high school will begin collecting hair from students to conduct mandatory drug tests.
KSHB-TV reports that Rockhurst High School will start the random drug testing during the 2013-14 school year.
“Our point is, if we do encounter a student who has made some bad decisions with drugs or alcohol, we will be able to intervene, get the parents involved, get him help if necessary, and then help him get back on a path of better decision making, healthier choices for his life,” Rockhurst Principal Greg Harkness told KSHB-TV.
The school will collect 60 strands of hair from the student and test for several types of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. If a student comes back with a positive drug test, that student will have 90 days to get drug-free. KSHB-TV reports the file will be destroyed for a student who tests positive after graduation and colleges and universities will never know about the failed test.
Matthew Brocato, the school’s junior class president, told The Kansas City Star that the mandatory drug testing is not to punish students who fail.
“When you hear ‘drug testing,’ you think cops,” Brocato told the Star. “At first you’re taken aback. Is it for the better?”
Officials decided to start drug testing during the next school year after a recent survey conducted to their students.
“What was most alarming for us is that when you asked our students if everyone else is doing it, they said, ‘Yes.’ But, in fact, they weren’t,” Harkness told KSHB-TV. “It’s that perception I think among teenagers today that fuels the peer pressure – that there’s this idea that ‘Everyone is doing it, so I guess I have to do it myself.’”
Parents are also backing the school’s decision.
“We’ve had lots of conversations – that’s the thing I like most about it – it has opened up conversations around the dinner table with both my boys, and that’s been great for our family,” mother Tammy Privitera told KSHB-TV.
The ACLU, though, believe school drug testing is a waste of time and money.
“Nothing prohibits it,” Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, told the Star. “But it is a colossal waste of money.”
Private schools are allowed to test all students while public schools are restricted by the Fourth Amendment.