Hair Testing: Myths Explained


Photo Credits: Izzy Nguyen

Hair testing has been one of the more controversial subjects among the students of Ascension, ranking a close second to mandatory Eucharist. As everyone knows, Ascension has a zero-tolerance substance abuse policy. Substance abuse in the handbook available to students, parents, and faculty is defined as, “The use by an Ascension Episcopal School student of any of the following, whether on school property, at a school event, or at another venue:

  1. Any drug and/or chemical that is illegal to possess in the State of Louisiana.
  2. Included in this category are all drugs and/or chemicals regulated by State or Federal law, as well as over-the-counter non-prescription medications, glues, solvents, bath salts, and/or other chemicals that individuals may atempt to use, inhale or ingest for illicit purposes.
  3. Any drug which requires a prescription from a licensed medical provider unless administered by the school staff or the student’s parent(s).
  4. At the discretion of the administration, violations related to prescription drugs may be treated differently when addressing penalties and possible expulsion for the reasons set out in this document.
  5. Any liquid that contains alcohol that is consumed to affect the sobriety of the user.

The use of alcohol is understood to include but may not be limited to beer, wine, hard liquor, and/or any other chemical containing alcohol that may be consumed to affect the sobriety of the user. Receiving wine at Holy Communion is an exception to this rule.”


We have switched to the company Psychemedics. This worldwide leader owns all of the patents for hair testing. It is FBI approved and even used by the FBI on potential employees. This is it guys, it’s the real deal. A list of all students 8-12 grade is sent to the company. From here, a list compiling 60 percent of our students is randomly generated by the company. However, faculty and administration have the right to add specific students to the list if suspicions come about. There will at least 3 more tests conducted this year. Because the list is generated randomly, you have the chance of being in every single one. 

You’re probably thinking that you’ll end up bald by the end of the year if we keep going at it like this. The hair sample that was taken is the smallest amount of hair possible for the most effective test. It goes to the lab to be run under an initial test. If anything is triggered, it gets tested again for specific drugs that Ascension has categorized. Your hair then gets washed and then has a 0 percent chance of testing positive if your only contact with these drugs were just from being in the presence of a user..

In the past, Ascension has urine tested 25% of its students grades 9-12 three to four times a year. Tthe rational reason as to why we switched is due to the amount of time a child has previously spent outside of the classroom. Hair testing has allowed us to test 150 students in one day, each missing a maximum of one full class period. This is because a person working for the company no longer has to be present for Ascension to gather samples. 

Another advantage is far greater accuracy. The hair test detects the last 90 days (3 months) of usage. This is not said in the hopes that Ascension catches you because that is not the goal. The Dean of Students Steven Sorrell says, “The last thing we want to see as administrators is a positive test. It is not a phone call I ever want to have with a child and their parents. We are focused on the bigger picture. If you are using we hope to address the problem and offer help. I can stand here and honestly say that I genuinely care about the health and safety of each one of you.” He believes our lives as students can go well in a healthy manner. Because of this, the school drug tests us in order to provide a real, legitimate, and honest reason to say no.