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J Sch Health. 2009 Apr;79(4):177-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00387.x.

Responses to positive results from suspicionless random drug tests in US public school districts.

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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 1516 E Franklin St, Suite 200, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.



Little is known about the context in which school-based suspicionless random drug testing (SRDT) occurs. The primary purpose of the current study was to describe school districts' responses to students' first positive result in districts with SRDT programs.


Data were collected in spring 2005 from 1612 drug prevention coordinators in a nationally representative sample of 1922 school districts (83.9% response rate), of which 205 districts reported SRDT in high school grades.


Respondents reported an array of consequences for students with an initial positive SRDT, including requiring parents or guardians to meet with school officials (88.4%) and requiring students to participate in an education, counseling, or treatment program (60.8%). However, some districts also reported consequences contraindicated by federal advisory guides, such as notifying law enforcement officials (45.1%) and suspending the student from an athletic team (65.0%) or from school (31.0%). Some respondents may have conflated their districts' responses to for cause and random tests. Districts generally had available key services for students testing positive, including professional counseling for substance use problems (87.3%) and referrals to counseling services (91.9%).


More understanding is needed of schools' responses to students who test positive following the administration of SRDT, available advisory guides concerning best practices should be more effectively disseminated, and appropriate training and technical assistance should be available to schools with SRDTs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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