Many Arkansas districts randomly drug test middle and high school students who participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. The reasoning behind these tests, according to school handbooks, is twofold — mixing drugs and physical activity endangers the health of students, and students who wear school jerseys are ambassadors, representing the school rather than themselves. A positive test typically means suspension from athletics or other extracurricular activities.
In 2002, UALR journalism professor Bruce Plopper and three other families sued the Conway School District for drug testing or threatening to test their middle school students. According to Plopper, both the U.S. and Arkansas Constitutions have clauses that protect against this testing. Before the case made it to court, Conway suspended its testing program, and in 2007 the district officially dropped the policy. "This was an unwarranted invasion of privacy," Plopper said. "They were testing students who hadn't done anything wrong, students with high grades."
According to Rita Sklar, executive director of ACLU of Arkansas, public school students are one of the most susceptible demographics to institutionalized bullying. "What student doesn't play sports or do something extracurricular? Students shouldn't have to submit bodily fluids just because they go to a public school," she said. In a multiyear, national study, the University of Michigan found nearly identical levels of drug use in schools that test and schools that don't.
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