Mingo County Schools, which has been under state control since 2005 because of poor facilities and financial management, is not the first school district in the state to implement such a policy. Other school systems that drug test students include Cabell, Putnam and Logan.
During the past school year, nearly 600 eligible students were tested at random in Cabell County's middle and high schools. Of those, 11 tests came back positive for amphetamines, alcohol or marijuana, according to district data.
The tests were first implemented in 2008 and cost the Cabell County Board of Education about $20,000 each year, according to Todd Alexander, assistant superintendent for the county.
"Every once in a while, we run into a problem, but, for the most part, everyone's been very accepting," Alexander said. "The emphasis on this was to give kids another good reason to say 'No'; that if they were out on the weekend or hanging out after school and someone had drugs on them, that they could say, 'I could be tested at any point. I can't.'"
Sarah Rogers, of the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that while it's legal to drug test certain students using proper safeguards, it can be a tough idea to grasp, especially for minors.
"We all have a high privacy interest in our bodily fluids, and tests can be pretty invasive," she said. "Urine analysis reveals a whole host of things beyond the presence of drugs. So schools need to make sure the information being collected is very limited and not used for law enforcement purposes. It needs to be kept private.
"For example, tests can reveal certain diseases or that a student is pregnant," she said. "Generally, schools can't test their employees . . . but a school's relationship with its students is a little bit different than with adults."
But Ken Schneider, operations manager for Huntington-based Health Research Systems -- the company which has conducted most of the school drug tests in the state and will likely take on the Mingo County project -- said in this case, that's not true.
"For student tests, the only thing that is being tested for is the presence or non-presence of the metabolites being produce by banned presences," he said. "It is not a full-range test. It's a screening test that just tests for the presence of those things."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.