The recent steroid controversy in professional sports may only be the beginning of this nation’s relationship with physical and cognitive enhancement drugs. The market for enhancement drugs is growing at an alarming rate, raising serious ethical, legal, and social issues for our society. Healthy students at every educational level are increasingly turning to “cognitive performance enhancers,” such as Ritalin, to increase their focus, bolster concentration, and gain a competitive edge over other students. Consequently, schools will soon be forced to supervise and regulate performance-enhancing drugs to ensure a fair and safe environment for students.
Public schools traditionally focused on protecting students from derailing their lives by abusing drugs and alcohol. School districts typically employ various learning programs and prevention procedures, such as random drug testing, to detect and prevent illegal drug use. Schools could use these existing programs, particularly the drug testing policies, as a blueprint to educate and prevent students from using performance-enhancing drugs.
Historically, schools struggled to institute drug and alcohol testing programs because such testing is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment, which ensures “[t]he right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . .” The right to be free from unreasonable searches applies to all individuals in America, but the Supreme Court has developed exceptions to the Fourth Amendment to permit “reasonable searches and seizures” in the public high school setting. Balancing the government’s interest in safety against the students’ privacy concerns, the Court determined that a school’s desire to prevent and deter drug use can outweigh student privacy interests.
This Note explores the history of suspicionless drug testing and performance-enhancing drug abuse in public high schools. Specifically, this Note argues that public high schools across the country should implement performance-enhancing drug regulation and education programs to prevent students’ illicit use of performance-enhancing drugs. Further analysis focuses on the ethical, health, and legal concerns stemming from the use of performance-enhancing drugs, particularly steroids and Ritalin. Finally, this Note recommends steps that state school districts should take to ensure a fair and safe school environment, free from drug-induced scholastic and athletic achievements and the influence of performance-enhancing drugs. . . .