Oklahoma Town's High School Drug Testing Program Is A Bust

By McCarton Ackerman 01/29/14

Despite focusing on education and prevention rather than punishment, the school's program has failed to turn up many drug users.

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The number of positive results when it comes to mandatory state drug testing on welfare recipients is extremely low, and that same statistic now applies to testing on high school students. The three public high schools in Edmond, OK, drug tested 750 students involved in extracurricular activities over the last year and recorded only eight positive tests (just over 1%). The testing was done over a 10-month period and is only a small sampling of the 23,000 students in the Edmond public school district. The gender and grade level of the students, as well as the drugs detected, were not released by the school district.

Edmond’s approach to drug testing appears to be more focused on education and prevention than punishment. Students testing positive for the first time must obtain an alcohol and drug use assessment from a licensed practitioner. A second offense yields a 14-day suspension from participating in extracurricular activities, while a third offense results in an 88-day suspension. The results are never turned over to law enforcement officials and once a student graduates or leaves the school district, their drug test information is destroyed.

Students involved in extracurricular activities must submit to random tests that involve giving a saliva sample to test for marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine, among other drugs. “In conversations with our students, we have learned that the unpredictable potential to be called for random testing has provided many with a solid reason to refrain from risky behaviors that before were more tempting and harder to refuse in the company of peers,” said Debbie Bendick, Edmond's executive director of secondary education.

Not all parents are on board with the testing, though. Leslie Petrie objected to her daughter being dropped from a debate class after refusing to sign a drug testing consent form. She has since left her high school and is now being homeschooled.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.