Student Athletes In Oregon Demand School Drug Testing

By McCarton Ackerman 09/30/14

In a surprising turn, students in one Oregon school district actually want to get tested for drugs.

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Parents and students in several districts throughout the country have been protesting drug testing in schools, but one school district in Oregon has implemented them at the request of students.

Student-athletes in the South Lane and Junction City school districts, located in Eugene, Ore. will be required to submit to drug tests this year. Both school boards have approved plans to drug test students at least once per season and also administer random tests. Any student who fails three tests will be banned from sports teams. Students in South Lane have even made bracelets in the school’s colors that read, “I am drug free. Test me.”

Students in the district are already required to take a Breathalyzer test before entering a school dance. They had previously tried implementing voluntary drug-testing in the early 90s, but scrapped it after students who were using drugs unsurprisingly didn’t volunteer to be tested.

"This isn't about busting kids," said Cottage Grove High School Principal Iton Udosenata. "It's about helping kids. It's not about infringing on kids' rights. The outcome we want is for more kids to have the opportunity to say 'no.'" Senior Jarrett Reade, the co-chair of the athletes’ council, supported the measure because “it’s an easy way to see who is using and who is not.”

However, some parents and students in the district believe the new policy is misguided and will drive students away from extracurricular activities. It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by many across the country. The Perry County school district in Pennsylvania sparked controversy over their mandatory drug testing being administered to pre-teens. Natalie Cassell, 10, was drug tested three times this past year at Susquenita Middle School because she is part of a leadership club.

Her mother, Kristin, said she was upset that she wasn't notified when one of the tests took place. School officials said that a nurse is required to inform parents that their child is being drug tested, but doesn't have to wait for them to respond back.

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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.