August 24, 2000
Random Student Drug Testing Policies Overturned, Questioned
Indiana Court Of Appeals Rules Random Student Drug Tests Are Unconstitutional
IN: On Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that
students cannot be forced to take a drug test in order to play sports, take part
in after school activities and park an automobile on campus.
The panel of judges in the case based much of their decision on Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana State Constitution which states, "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search, or seizure, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized."
In writing the decision, Justice Patrick D. Sullivan wrote "the purpose of Article 1, Section 11 is to protect the 'areas of life that Hoosiers regard as private' ... The framers of the Indiana Constitution intended to protect the people from abuses of police power. We see no reason to depart from requiring individualized suspicion to protect against the abuses associated with blanket suspicionless searches of school children."
"The Indiana test regarding searches and seizures has always been one of reasonableness. When focusing upon the reasonableness of the official behavior in the instant case, we hold that Northwestern School Corporations' policy of conducting suspicionless drug testing of students participating in athletics, extracurricular or co-curricular activity, or those who drive to school is unconstitutional."
The court stated that schools can only drugtest students if there is probable cause to believe the student is using drugs.
The Indiana Civil Liberties Union filed suit for Rosa Linke and her younger sister Reena last year after they protested the school's drug testing policy. Both participated in the National Honor Society, the school's prom committee and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"Schools put a stipulation on students by saying in order to make yourself the kind of person who can get into college, and get a scholarship, you have to submit to a random drug test," said Rosa Linke, who has since graduated high school and is attending college. "I have the right to take the position that I will not pee in a cup for them."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751. To read the ruling visit: www.state.in.us/judiciary/opinions/wpd/08210001.pds.doc
Maryland School District Repeals Student Drug Testing Policy
On August 16, Talbot County, MD school officials agreed to end student drug
testing, settling a lawsuit filed by Easton High School students, parents and
the American Civil Liberties Union.
In January, a student told school officials that a group of 18 students attended a party where drugs and alcohol were present. The students were then dragged from their classes and forced to line up on the auditorium stage and submit urine specimens for drug screens. Female students were asked personal and embarrassing questions, such as if they were on birth control pills (which can cause a false positive on some drug screens) in front of their peers. The students were told they would be suspended and possibly expelled if they did not submit to the drug tests.
According to the settlement, the school system must: pay an undisclosed amount in damages and all legal fees to the students, arrange a meeting of school board President Steven Harris, Superintendent J. Sam Meek, students and parents to hear student complaints and to apologize "for any harms the students suffered," remove any mention of drug testing from the students' files and conduct an internal review of the conduct of Meek, the school principal Timothy Thurber, county Health Department drug counselor Sarah Smith and pupil service coordinator Beth Nobbs.
Graham Boyd, who heads the ACLU national drug program said this case may cause other school systems to review policies.
"A majority of schools in this country do not do this kind of drug testing," Boyd said. "In most cases, officials decide it's expensive, ineffective in stopping drug use and subject to these kinds of abuses. But, to my knowledge, this is the first time a school system has admitted wrong, paid damages and dropped the policy."
For more information, please contact Graham Boyd of the ACLU at (203) 787-4188.
Three New Jersey Students File Suit Against Random Drug Testing
Last Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed a lawsuit
on behalf of three students in Hunterdon County High School who are challenging
the school's random drug testing program. Students at the school who wish
to park a car on campus, participate in sports or extra-curricular activities
must pass a random drug test.
The school's drug testing policy is set to go into effect on September 8.
J.C. Salyer, an attorney with the ACLU, said the drug testing policy violates student privacy rights under the New Jersey State Constitution and provides no justifiable reason for testing the students.
The three students represented in the lawsuit include a varsity gymnast, a Model United Nations participant and a writer with the school's on-line literary magazine.
For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.
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