State

Chunks of hair taken from Kansas students for school’s random drug tests, parents say

Brian Anderson says a patch of his daughter’s hair was taken during a random drug test at school.
Brian Anderson says a patch of his daughter’s hair was taken during a random drug test at school. Brian Anderson

Students and parents are upset after “too much hair” was taken during a random drug test at school last week, a Kansas superintendent confirmed.

The hair follicle drug test is a monthly occurrence at the middle and high schools in Phillipsburg, USD 325 Superintendent Mike Gower told McClatchy. Each month, two students at the middle school are tested, six students at the high school.

This time the drug-testing company did something different, Gower said.

“We have parents upset that too much hair was taken,” he said.

The company that conducts the tests normally takes the hair from three places on the students’ scalps, Gower said, but this time only one, more-concentrated area of hair was taken.

“That’s what got people upset,” he said. “But it’s on me, and what happens in this district is on me, and I take full responsibility.”

Because of that, Gower said he has apologized to the parents and students affected. He is looking for a new drug-testing company — one that takes less hair — to recommend to the district’s school board.

The board requires a hair follicle test instead or urine and swab testing because hair follicle tests can detect drugs as far as 90 days back.

The district requires students and parents sign a “Student Drug Testing Policy” at the beginning of each school year if they want to participate in or attend school-sponsored activities, according to the consent form. Gower said this is the district’s second year with that policy.

If students do not want their names in the random drug-testing pool, they cannot participate in or attend school-sponsored activities, according to the drug test withdrawal form.

Students who consent, and then refuse the test, will be considered “positive for drugs,” the policy states.

Gower said the policy is in place as a deterrent of drug use.

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