Drug Testing in Schools – Legality Issues

Drug testing in schools has been presented with a wide variety of different legality issues over the years gone by. Perhaps the most prominent one, and what many consider to be the legality issue that set the precedence for many years to come, took place in June of 1995. This occurred when the Supreme Court ruled that a Washington School District, which made drug testing a requirement for all athletes, regardless of any causes – if a school has reasonable suspicion that a particular athlete is using drugs – could drug test any athletes wishing to participate in any sports programs. Oddly enough, the panel of judges also noted that this would not set precedence for future drug testing cases in schools. However, the very fact that they awarded the school district by ruling in favor of them, and in school drug testing, most assuredly did set the precedence.

In the 80s, most courts shot down mass school drug testing. In an unrelated but similar incident, firefighters in Tennessee won a case (called Lovvorn v. City of Chattanooga), in the late 80s that was ruled a violation of the 4th Amendment if they were being drug tasted en masse without reasonable suspicion. Other similar cases that are of importance to note as well include: Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers v. Board of Ed., 119 A.D. (1986), where teachers won against drug testing, and Jones v. McKenzie, 628 F. Supp. 1500, (D.D.C. 1986), where school bus drivers won a similar suit that protected them from mass drug testing.

Today, while some private schools mandate that all submit to student drug testing as a method of rooting out bad students and problems, most public schools only drug test athletes. While only reasonable suspicion – as opposed to probable cause – is required to conduct random searches on students for drugs, unless they are an athlete and have signed some sort of waver of their rights, drug testing students at random is generally prohibited. If such cases were brought before the courts again, chances are in favor of them being shot down – as they were during the 80s – under the premises of civil liberties.

Source: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4935

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