High-Stakes Urine Tests

January 31, 2007 1 min read

In one New Jersey district, what you do (or don’t do) over the weekend will have significant consequences come Monday morning—and we’re not talking about acing the big algebra test. Administrators at Pequannock Township High School recently approved a new policy to randomly test students for weekend alcohol use. The sensitive tests, which will be used starting next week, can detect drinks consumed up to 80 hours earlier. School officials assert that the specter of testing will encourage students to make better decisions when offered alcohol at weekend parties. But some students beg to differ: “No one’s really taking it seriously,” says one senior. And civil liberties advocates are concerned that the tests are an invasion of privacy and can produce false positives if students consume Balsamic vinegar or use mouthwash, for example. “Medical care and treatment issues are between parents and children,” says Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

What’s your take—should high schools test their students for alcohol use over the weekend? What kind of limits should exist on school districts’ involvement in students’ private lives?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.