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Spearfish School District Considers Testing Extracurricular Participants for Drugs

An eager reader shares a print copy of the Thursday, December 12, Black Hills Pioneer indicating that the Spearfish School District is considering imposing drug testing on students in extracurricular activities. Principal Steve Morford told the school board that no school in South Dakota does this yet, and it sounds like, if Superintendent Kirk Easton has his choice, Spearfish won’t become the first:

A concern that has been brought up is should the policy be adopted, fewer students may want to participate in activities.

“We prefer to have kids in activities, so that was just one concern that a policy committee member had expressed. That’s our ultimate goal. We find that kids that are involved in activities do better in school, so why put something in place that might deter them from doing that?” Easton asked.

…Easton also mentioned that it seems schools have become disciplinarians for society and this is just another thing that the school is looking to police… [author and title not included in the screen cap sent to me! but it’s in the Black Hills Pioneer, 2019.12.12, p. 18].

Students and parents are rightly concerned that the schools would impose another unwarranted search and seizure, especially when this search invades their children’s bodies. Wanting to debate or sing or play volleyball does give probable cause to justify a search warrant.

Besides, as Governor Noem swears, we don’t have money for any new things in school, so we don’t have money for new invasions of privacy. Drug tests cost $55 a pee. There are about 1,300 kids in Spearfish High School and Middle School. If half of them participate in activities, that’s about $36,000 Spearfish will have to spend sniffing their kids’ potty.

I’m not for drugs. I’m all for policies that bench players if they break the law. But among the civics lessons we can teach our kids is that they enjoy some Fourth Amendment rights, too, and that they shouldn’t have to surrender those rights every time they want to travel, work, or play ball.


  1. Donald Pay 2019-12-16 08:32

    This may be a reason education in South Dakota shouldn’t be given more money.

    Drug use among teens and adults is trending down in the last several years. This means the drug testing industry is starting to feel the pinch, because as people forego drugs, there is less demand for their services. What do they do?

    Start by manufacturing concern over some new drug, or pump up the concern over old drugs. Meth, for example. Get some dumb politician to go on jihad over a drug even the druggies think is bad. Start a marketing campaign with double meanings. “Meth, We’re On It.” What better way to get kids hooked could you have thought up? Then “solve” the problem you created with drug testing. It’s so transparent. All you have to do next is collect the campaign checks and kickbacks from the drug testing industry.

  2. mike from iowa 2019-12-16 09:40

    I’m guessing, in addition to Mr Pay’s recent comment, drug testing outfits will jack up the costs associated to make up for lost profits with less testing.

    I can see them warehousing test results and charging clients a stiff fee for release of the results. Might just as well screw the public coming and going.

  3. Donald Pay 2019-12-16 11:23

    That conversation with the young gentleman Cory posted about (link below) is the best message that other students could get. It was honest and right from a person who had dabbled in drugs. At that age messages from adults are less effective than from the kid who drug testing would cause to be ostracized.

    I’ve noticed that in Wisconsin, students are being asked to come up with the ads regarding drugs. They are likely to be more direct and more effective than stuff adults come up with. And students work cheaper.

  4. Mark 2019-12-16 11:45

    This absolutely makes my head explode.
    Without going into a long drawn out
    response , I will just tell the Spearfish
    School district, teachers, principals ,
    Coaches, janitors and lunch room cooks
    to just get in line.
    One pee’ s …………..Everyone pee’s.

  5. bearcreekbat 2019-12-16 11:46

    Donald makes a good point that “messages from adults are less effective than from” other kids. The reason is likely that adults have continued to exaggerate the ill effects of drugs since at least the 1930’s. When kids realize that adults constantly lie about things kids witness with their own eyes it is much easier to discount actual valid information or warnings from adults – the boy who cried wolf effect.

    From “marijuana madness” to Noem’s exaggerations about marijuana and meth, if a kid sees a friend have some immediate fun experimenting with a drug without the asserted horrible side effects that adults shout about, is it any wonder kids ignore whatever else adults are claiming?

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-16 12:47

    If kids come to mistrust adults because of our exaggerations and misunderstandings, we have all the more obligation to remove the Liar-in-Chief and replace him with a much better role model of honest, evidence-based policy pronouncements and respect for the Constitution. Kids need to see adults who mean what they say and know what they are talking about.

    They also need to hear their peers’ own realizations about drugs (that’s the weekend post Donald mentioned). They don’t need to be lined up to pee in a cup. I don’t know if the student I talked to took any drug test or got caught. That student simply saw better school performance off drugs than on. The same will be true for kids in athletic activities. It’s hard to imagine anyone debating or singing or sinking three-pointers better while high than while sober.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-16 12:48

    And I agree completely with Donald that in every situation like this, we should ask which testing company is pushing the policy and how much they plan to charge for any such expansion of testing to a less-using population.

  8. Debbo 2019-12-16 20:49

    Don’s point is excellent. Follow the money.

    Every survey and poll shows teenagers are better at taking care of themselves than previous generations. They drink less, drink and and drive less, drug less, boys keep their pants zipped more (fewer teen pregnancies), get educated more, take better care of the planet, etc. The only thing they do that can’t really be compared is phone use because it’s so new.

    So when someone of my Boomer generation mutters about “These kids these days,” I tell them it’s too bad we weren’t more like them. Either that or I say “Ok Boomer,” and they stare at me blankly.

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