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      JC high school drug testing expanded

      Broader drug-testing rules await Jefferson City High School students when school starts later this week.

      Broader drug-testing rules await Jefferson City High School students when school starts later this week.

      The Jefferson City school board unanimously approved a new policy Monday night that requires all high school students taking part in activities sponsored by the Missouri State High School Activities Association to submit to random drug testing throughout the school year. Originally, this policy only applied to student athletes. Activities that will now require drug tests include speech and debate teams, Scholars' Bowl, band and choir. Superintendent Brian Mitchell told KRCG 13 the new policy will help the district reach a broader range of students.

      "It allows us to serve more kids. It gives more kids in activities that weren't covered before another opportunity to say no to behaviors and activities that we want to encourage them not to be involved in," he said.

      Broad drug testing policies are not unusual among school districts nationwide, and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling held that such testing does not violate a person's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, "The safety interest furthered by drug testing is undoubtedly substantial for all children, athletes and nonathletes alike," and asserted, "This Court has repeatedly stated that reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment does not require employing the least intrusive means."

      A 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Education found random drug testing for extracurricular activities led to lower drug usage among students. The study found 22 percent of students in school districts that did not conduct drug tests had used drugs in a 30-day period. In school districts that did conduct drug tests, that figure fell to 16 percent of students. Participation in extracurricular activities was about the same whether drug testing happened or not.

      The new drug policy takes effect immediately.