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ADDRESSING ADMINISTRATORS' COMMON CONCERNS

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Check.How do schools fund drug testing programs?
Check.Do RSDT programs create distrust between students, teachers and parents?
Check.Are students less likely to participate in athletics or extracurricular activities if they are in the random testing pool?
Check.Do drug tests invade students' privacy?
Check.What if students start to use drugs that are not being tested for currently?
Check.Is there a test for alcohol abuse?
Check.How easy is it to cheat on drug tests?
Check.Do drug tests identify how much of the drug has been used?
Check.How can my school network to gather more information on RSDT?

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How do schools fund drug testing programs?

Drug testing is a bargain, costing about $10-20 per test. If 50% of eligible students are tested on a random basis during the school year, for 1,000 eligible students the cost of the tests is about $5,000 to $10,000 if the school handles collection and about $12,500 if a Third Party Administrator (TPA) is used. A TPA is an outside agency employed by the school to manage the testing processes.

Funding may be obtained from grants, private organizations, local businesses, nonprofit foundations, or donations. For a community it is much less expensive to use effective education and prevention techniques - including RSDT - than it is to pay for treatment or damages to families and communities as a result of drug abuse. RSDT is a preventative tool that is a part of the larger efforts in schools working with families and communities to help more students stay drug-free. If grant funds are used to start an RSDT program, the school will sooner or later have to build this cost into its own budget. For most schools it makes sense to start budgeting for RSDT right away since the school budget is where program funding will be most stable.

Learn about the benefits and costs of using either Third Party Administrators (TPAs) or trained school personnel to administer drug tests.

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Do RSDT programs create distrust between students, teachers and parents?

RSDT programs exist for the protection of the students. The program serves to deter students from using illegal drugs at an age when they are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure and to being introduced to illicit substances. Students who test positive receive counseling and, if necessary, are referred to treatment.

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Are students less likely to participate in athletics or extracurricular activities if they are in the random testing pool?

Some schools with random student drug testing have reported an increase in student participation of after-school activities compared to schools with no student drug testing. Students are attracted to opportunities to be with other drug-free students.

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Do drug tests invade students' privacy?

In Board of Education v. Earls, the Supreme Court held that "Tecumseh's Policy is a reasonable means of furthering the School District's important interest in preventing and deterring drug use among its schoolchildren and does not violate the Fourth Amendment" (Pp.2564-2569).

In addition, for public schools that receive federal funding, federal regulations protect the students' privacy regarding confidentiality of procedures and testing (see FERPA and PPRA).

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What if students start to use drugs that they learn are not being tested for currently?

A student drug testing program coupled with a supportive comprehensive drug-prevention program creates an environment that does not accept drug use. Schools can rotate the drugs tested for to extend the reach of drugs identified. It is important that students know that any illegal drug can be tested for to maximize the deterrent power of RSDT.

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Is there a test for alcohol abuse?

Saliva and urine tests can identify alcohol use if the student has ingested alcohol within the past few hours. There are other test methods that can be used to curb this problem. For example, EtG tests can detect alcohol exposure up to 80 hours prior to the test. (See EtG in New Ideas in RSDT.)

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How easy is it to cheat on drug tests?

Most schools experience few problems with cheating. One way to reduce cheating which is limited to urine testing is to alternate between urine, oral fluids, and hair testing so that the student will not know which test to expect.

Most urine cups purchased for drug testing have built-in temperature gauges to detect fluids that are added to the urine sample when collected. Laboratories also have techniques to detect contaminants in urine samples. If hair samples or saliva tests are performed, there is very little opportunity for cheating.

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Do drug tests identify how much of the drug has been used?

Drug tests identify the presence of drugs or their metabolites (breakdown products) at or above the specified cut-off levels, so they are read as "negative" (meaning no drug found at or above the cut-off level) or "positive" meaning they were found at or above the cut-off level. They are not read like alcohol tests at specific levels.

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How can my school network to gather more information on RSDT?

Schools can reach out to other schools with established RSDT programs. While every RSDT program is unique to the school it serves, schools can get valuable information, support, and new ideas to start a program or to improve an existing RSDT program from connecting with schools that have successful programs. Schools located nearby are especially useful.

Third Party Administrators (TPAs) are testing providers who have a great deal of experience with drug testing, often including workplace as well as school-based testing. Whether a school plans to use a TPA or trained school personnel to administer the random drug tests, TPAs can be great resources to schools considering building or improving an RSDT program.

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