Drug testing policy differs between mid-Missouri public, private schools

Hair testing is becoming more common as a way to drug screen high school students.

Hayden High School, a private school in Topeka, Kansas, has been taking hair samples to drug screen students each month for a year.

Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City has been doing it for a decade according to Dean of Students Stan Ochsner.

"The response from parents has been very good since the beginning, but really even the response from the kids has been good because it gives them a way to say no. It gives them an out when they're approached by somebody that's wanting them to do something that they really don't want to do. It gives them an excuse to say, "my school tests, no I don't want to take a chance on this,'" said Ochsner.

The tests do not come without a price.

At $35 at test, only one third of the school's population is tested at random, with 20-30 students being tested every other week.

Ochsner said a few local beauticians volunteer their time cut a few strands from students' hair so the sample is not cosmetically noticeable, then the samples are sent to a lab in Ohio.

The policy is part of the school's student hand book that parents must sign off on at registration.

A big advantage of hair testing is that it can show drug use over the last three months, while a urine screening only shows up to a few days.

"When we do get a positive, we know that it's somebody that's using the drug. It's not somebody who was at a party and someone said, 'hey, try this one time.' We're talking an amount sufficient that your system has metabolized it," said Ochsner.

Ochsner said students who fail the first time will be tested again in 100 days, then routinely monitored. A student faces expulsion if they fail a second time.

According to Jefferson City public schools spokesman David Luther, student-athletes are randomly drug screened with a urine test.

The National Institute on Drug Use states that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled random tests do not violate 4th amendment rights. In 2002 that ruling was expanded to include students who participate in extra-curricular activities.