Middle School Drug Testing: Effective Deterrent or Overbearing Policy?

PHOTO: Alexis and Meghan Kiederer were forced to sit out all after-school activities at Delaware Valley Middle School in Middletown, Pa., while their parents took school officials to court over the mandatory drug testing policy.
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It takes more than a quick serve to make the girls' volleyball team at Pleasant Middle School in Marion, Ohio. Before becoming a Lady Spartan, each 12- to 13-year-old must first pass a test they all say is a little embarrassing -- a mandatory drug test.

"It's disgusting," said Alexis Klaiber, one of the volleyball players.

"They tell you to go to the restroom and you come out with a cup and it's just really awkward because other people are standing there," Cammy Creeger said. "You had to walk out and sometimes the guys were there."

Drug testing is mandatory at Pleasant Middle School for any student involved in extracurricular activities. Principal Lane Warner said the school tests for "common street drugs" and alcohol at random, and will pull students out of class for drug testing.

Many students said the process is nerve-wrecking.

"He just called your name so you get so scared you're in trouble," said Brooke Flickinger. "So you start freaking out, it's something else, 'OK what have I done that I could get in trouble for?'"

Random drug testing, once reserved for Olympic, college and high school athletes, has become a fact of life for hundreds of kids in their early teens, even pre-teen years, in the United States. Today, school districts in at least nine states require middle school students to undergo drug tests.

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Some Lady Spartans at Pleasant Middle School said they thought the drug testing was a good thing.

"I think it's helping to stop [drug use]," Creeger said.

"Because they know they are not going to be eligible for sports," Flickinger said.

But when Alexis Kiederer tried to join her middle school scrapbooking club in Milford, Pa., where drug tests are required for students who want to participate in extracurricular activities, her parents pushed back. They would not give permission for their daughters to take the drug tests, which meant she also couldn't play school sports.

"That was difficult because I wasn't able to play with some of the girls I've been playing with for years, and to be able to make new friendships, gain more experience," Alexis said.

Alexis and her younger sister Meghan were forced to sit out all after-school activities at Delaware Valley Middle School, while their parents took school officials to court. The girls' mother, Kathy Kiederer, said it was worth taking a stand, even if it meant her daughters couldn't participate in the clubs and sports they loved.

"I get that it's easy to pee in a cup, but giving up your constitutional rights just because you can doesn't mean you should," Kiederer said.

Back at Pleasant Middle School, Principal Warner said he believes the mandatory drug testing rule gives students a strong reason to refuse drugs and alcohol under peer pressure. But the bigger concern, he said, is the stories he said he has heard about what some kids are bringing to school.

"Little things that they hide drugs in [and] they carry around with them that look like a normal highlighter-- It was very eye-opening to see that there are so many ways out there," Warner said. "I would like to think it's not a big issue, but I think that's naïve. Kids are exposed to everything."

He said kids in his school district don't have to work hard to get drugs.

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