By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
Hardin County has joined a growing number of Kentucky school districts that require student drivers, and those who participate in athletics, to submit to random drug testing, Anna Taylor reports for the News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown.
“We have traditionally done random drug testing with our athletes; however, it is a privilege to provide transportation services to our students,” Supt. Nannette Johnston told Taylor. “For the safety of our students that are driving and all students and everyone else on the road, we want to make sure they are safe as well. They will submit to the same random drug testing that happens with our athletes.”
The policy was recently adopted by the county school board and is slated to take affect in August at North Hardin, Central Hardin and John Hardin high schools. It says that if a student fails a urine test, driving privileges on school property will be suspended for 12 weeks and their parents will be notified. They will be tested again after the 12 weeks; they can regain their driving privileges, or, if they have a second offense, their privileges will be suspended for the rest of the school year. Refusal to cooperate results in suspension for the year.
“We want to make sure they haven’t been using and they don’t have anything in their vehicles that’s tempting them or other students,” Johnston said. “When they choose to be like an adult, they’re going to be treated like an adult.”
A quick internet search found that drug-testing student drivers, along with student athletes, seems to have become a trend across the state, with Whitley, Mercer, Hancock, and Bell counties all popping up with similar policies.
Private schools in Kentucky have also adopted the policy. Trinity High School in Louisville began its random drug and alcohol screening this year, but its policy includes all students, not just drivers Toni Konz reported for WDRB-TV. Covington Catholic High School will do random drug testing, including student drivers, next year, Desire Thompson reported for VIBE.
Last year, Andrew Wolfson of The Courier-Journal did an in-depth story about the legalities of random drug testing in schools, reporting that while the U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether public schools could do random drug screenings on all students, it is not likely to approve such a rule.
In an updated statement in March 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics said it did not support such policies. It said that while it supports the efforts to identify and address student substance abuse, tests can have false positive results, and such policies erode the student-school relationship and create issues about confidentiality of students’ medical records.