Faculty member: NO! (squirt) No drugs! Bad boy! Drugs are BAD! (squirt)
Student: AHH what the hell?!
FM: (squirt, squirt) No swearing at faculty members!
Student: Jesus Christ! Okay, I'm sorry, but what's with the spray?
(Then, if it's a religious school, FM squirts Student for using the Lord's name in vain.)
FORTUNATELY, things are not so bad as I imagined. The spray bottles in question are actually being used to detect drugs, not discipline drug users. From Reidsville, NC:
Rockingham County schools last week tested a new aerosol technology that detects drug residue. The technology will be used in the schools this fall.Okiedoke! So how does it work?
A federal grant is paying for the aerosol system, which uses a variety of sprays that react to narcotic particles as small as 1 microgram. Testing involves wiping an area of suspected drug residue and spraying it with the drug-detecting agent. The pad will change color depending on the type of substance that is found... The testing can be done on students' personal items, such as like book bags, pencils, door handles, keys or cell phones.I see. Which brings me to the question, how does it not work? According to the article,
- It works best with marijuana. So the effectiveness of detection seems inversely proportional to the harm caused by the drug detected. Bravo.
- The tests cannot stand as evidence in court, only as a probable cause for searches. But, even if students are in a visibly altered state, administrators can do nothing except call parents. So... wait, when is it actually necessary to use the stuff?
- Administrators can only take action when a student is caught with narcotics, or when another student alerts administrators. Well, that takes care of the invasion of privacy issue a little. But then, if they already see that the student has narcotics, then what's the point of the spray? Also,
- Secondary transmissions and false positives will be a concern, so initial positive results will not be considered seriously. That... comes so close to making sense. I mean, at least they realize false positives are going to be an issue. The director of Safety and Drug-Free Schools for the county even says, "Just because a kid has residue on his hands doesn't mean he's ingested a drug." So what you're saying is... the tests might prove that a student may or may not have deliberately been in contact with something that could have been, but wasn't necessarily, an illegal drug. Finally,
- The test pads will need to be carefully compared to a color chart before determining if residue is present. Doors, handles and other surfaces need to be wiped and then cleaned consistently to monitor drug presence. Disinfectants and cleaners may also cause false positives, but such chemicals are listed in an operational handbook. Colorblind administrators and slackoff janitors may further complicate the drug detection process. Those who like to get a buzz off cleaning products will be happy, though.