FAQs for TCA’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Program
Updated October 10, 2017
NOTE: This document has been created to answer typical questions that parents may have regarding the Drug and Alcohol Testing Program.This document, however, does not amend or change any actual policies found in the Upper School Parent and Student Handbook (“Handbook”). In the event of any conflict of wording or statement, the Handbook takes precedence.

List of 20 items.

  • Why has TCA decided to test its students for drug and alcohol use?

    Our decision to implement the testing of students for illegal drug use and alcohol use stems from a deep concern for the health and welfare of our students and a strong desire to protect them from harmful and potentially selfdestructive behavior. The tests will arm drug and alcoholfree students who want to remain drug- and alcoholfree with a powerful tool to resist peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol: “I can’t take drugs or consume alcohol; my school tests for drug and alcohol use, and my parents will find out.” While we would all like our children to be strong enough to say, “No,” we know that during the teen years they need help with decision-making. Research data reveal that the longer a young person avoids even casual alcohol and drug use, the less likely that young person will face substance abuse problems later in life.
  • Does TCA have a serious drug problem?

    We don’t believe we have a significant drug problem.  In the previous years’ drug testing we performed, there were no positive test results for drugs, other than verified medication taken with a physician’s prescription. Knowing the immediate and longterm effects of substance abuse on learning, on adolescent brain development and on health and safety overall, as well as the detrimental effects on general morale of the student body, TCA is committed to doing all we can to support students in living drug-free. We are not willing to ignore even a small percentage of students and leave them to the temptations and dangers of substance abuse.
  • What will the testing program entail?

    In the fall, approximately 75% of Upper School students will be tested for drugs and 25% will be tested for alcohol. A small hair sample will be taken and sent to Psychemedics Corporation for testing. The drug test will identify if any of 20 different drugs have been taken during the previous 100 days.  Based upon Psychemedics’ scientific equipment and process, the alcohol test will identify if a certain detectable minimum level of alcohol has been ingested over the last 100 days.

    Drug Testing: The drug test results will be sent to the Headmaster; he will contact the family whose child has tested positive for drug use and, along with the Upper School Administration and the Academic Dean, meet with them to help determine how best to help the child avoid future drug use. This will be considered a Class A Offense and handled according to the Handbook. After 100 days, the student will be tested again at the parents’ expense. As testing will be random, it is possible that some students may be tested more than once during the year. The school will reserve the right to administer drug testing for any student anytime during the year if the administration has concern or suspicion.

    Alcohol Testing: We are convinced the science behind testing for the presence of Ethyl Glucuronide (a metabolite deposited in hair after exposure to ethanol) in hair samples by Psychemedics Corporation is accurate and reliable.  However, the use of hair samples to test for the presence of alcohol is not as established as it is in drug testing. The science behind alcohol testing of hair continues to advance every year, so we will re-evaluate our reporting procedures periodically.  Alcohol testing results will be sent to a third party, Secure Test Results, who will then report the results (both negative and positive) to parents.  Parents whose child tests positive will receive a phone call and an email. Parents whose child tests negative will receive an email. TCA will neither receive nor review the alcohol testing results unless a parent or student elects to share them with the school. The school will reserve the right to administer alcohol testing for any student anytime during the year if the administration has concern or suspicion. 

    After initial testing of the students, the school will continue with random sampling of drugs or alcohol throughout the school year. As testing will be random, it is possible that some students may be tested more than once during the year. All new students entering TCA after the beginning of the school year will be tested in the next round of random sampling or prior to enrollment.
  • How will students’ names be chosen for random sampling?

    Psychemedics does not have students’ names. Random sampling software will be utilized by the company to provide numbers of the chosen students. TCA administrators will play no role in choosing specific students to be tested unless there is reasonable suspicion. All students on Class A Probation will be drug and/or alcohol tested during the random selection.
  • How and how much hair will be taken for a sample?

    Hair samples are collected in very controlled circumstances to assure an absolutely positive chain of custody. The amount of hair (taken near the base) needed for testing is equal to the diameter of lead inside a pencil. Hair samples will be taken (cut) by collectors trained by Psychemedics specifically for this program. Hair will be taken from an area of the head where it is least likely to be noticed. If a student has too little hair to be taken from the head, hair will be taken from the armpits, legs or arms. If a student purposely attempts to circumvent the testing in any way, the student will be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Will chemically treated hair or typical hair products affect the results?

    No. Standard hair products will not significantly affect the results.
  • How reputable is the company that will be performing the lab tests?

    Psychemedics has been considered the leading company in hair drug testing for over 25 years. It is used not only by Fortune 500 companies, but also schools, courts and major police forces. Over 200 secondary schools, as well as colleges, fraternities and sororities currently use Psychemedics services.
  • What drugs will be detected?

    Psychemedics will test for 20 different types of drugs under the following classifications: cocaine, opiates, phencyclidine, amphetamines and marijuana. Click here for a more thorough listing and explanations: https://www.psychemedics.com/drug-panel/. As tests for more drugs are developed, our testing may include them. Medications for ADD, AD/HD and anti-depressants are not included in the testing.
  • What if my child is taking a physician-prescribed drug?

    Some prescribed medications, especially various forms of painkillers, will cause positive results. If a student tests positive for drug(s) the parent thinks are caused by a doctor-prescribed medication, the parent must provide a copy of the prescription or of the medication bottle, along with the prescribing doctor’s contact information, within 48 hours so the administrator can confirm the legitimacy of the prescription. Once that has been done, the test will be considered negative. The student will be considered in good standing, and no other action will be necessary.
  • What if my child is near someone else who smokes marijuana? Will the test register that as positive for drug use?

    No, Psychemedics testing is carefully calibrated and will not produce a positive test result for exposure to air contamination. Students are best advised, though, to avoid situations where others are using drugs.
  • Does this program change TCA’s policy for drugs and alcohol on campus?

    No. Our emphasis with the drug testing initiative is for deterrence and for the long-term health of our students. A positive drug test will be handled as a Class A Offense as outlined in the US Parent and Student Handbook. However, possession or use of substances at school or a school-sponsored event is seen as an immediate threat to the health, welfare and morale of the student body and may be cause for immediate dismissal.
  • Who will be informed of the test results?

    School administrators who need to know will be informed. This is to help emphasize to students that this is a preventative and rehabilitative program. This structure is also meant to reassure them that any positive drug test results will not influence teachers’ and/or college counselors’ letters of recommendation. Drug test results will not be reported to the authorities. For a complete review of our policies pertaining to drug or alcohol use or possession, please see the US Parent and Student Handbook.
  • What will happen to any records?

    The testing laboratory, Psychemedics, holds positive records for five years, but those results only point to ID numbers. Psychemedics does not have student names. No documentation pertaining to student screening results will be made part of student’s permanent records.
    TCA drug records and results will be kept only by the Headmaster. Even then student names will not be directly listed with the test results: student hair samples and results will be associated with identifying numbers only and a separate list held by the Headmaster will consist of student names and identifying numbers. The school will destroy student names, numbers and results related to the drug-testing program two years after a student graduates or withdraws/is dismissed from school.
  • Is hair sampling more accurate than urinalysis?

    Yes. The primary difference is the wider window of detection with Psychemedics hair testing. Cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates and PCP are rapidly excreted from the body and usually undetectable in urine 48 – 72 hours after use. Chronic marijuana use may remain in the body longer. Rather than just hours or days detected by a body fluid test, a hair test detects drug and alcohol use over a period of months, ensuring that a user cannot evade the test by simply abstaining for a few days. Hair sampling also eliminates possibilities for substitution or adulteration of samples.
  • Does universal and random drug testing violate the Fourth Amendment or Texas State Statutes?

    No. The Fourth Amendment addresses unreasonable searches of citizens by a government or an agent of the government. TCA is not acting as either and is, therefore, exempt from the Fourth Amendment prohibitions. Similarly, there is no Texas Statute which prohibits drug and alcohol testing by a private business entity. Legal counsel for TCA and Psychemedics has rendered opinion that TCA is not violating any legal rights or statutes.
  • If I believe my child’s test is inaccurate, may I request a retest?

    All positive drug testing results are automatically subjected to intense retesting at Psychemedics before final confirmation and reporting of initial results to the school. If a family requests an additional retest of a new hair sample, it can be performed. Parents may request a second hair sample test within three business days of being told of the initial results. If the requested second test by Psychemedics confirms the positive results again, it will be considered final, and the family will be billed for the retest.
  • What happens regarding tuition and deposit if my child tests positive a second time after the 100 days and is withdrawn?

    The school would be very disappointed to lose a student due to a second positive drug test. The school would follow Trinity Christian Academy’s Refund Policy, which was included as part of TCA’s enrollment contract.
  • What is the school doing to educate students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol?

    In addition to our health course, we educate through special speakers, chapel programs, assemblies, and athletic character education addressing the topic of healthy decision-making and the dangers of substance abuse. Along with our drug and alcohol testing program, we continually examine our substance-abuse education.
  • I am concerned that my child may be experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol, and I would like to be proactive. Where might I turn for help?

    Our administrative leaders are seasoned professionals at providing advice and direction to parents about many issues affecting our teens and preteens. You are encouraged to seek help either on our campus or from an outside professional. Your request for advisement will be held in confidence. The following link is a tremendous place for parents to start: www.drugfree.org.
  • Where can I get more information?

Trinity Christian Academy is a private coeducational school for grades PreK–12 which offers Christian families and their children a demanding, college preparatory curriculum within a Christian community committed to integrating Biblical faith and learning.