Drug Testing In Schools – Take A Stand
Adapted from lesson written by Street Law, Inc. by the Institute for Citizen Education in the Law, Seattle, WA. Staff at the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) updated the lesson in 2012. For more information, contact AOC Court Services, 1206 Quince Street SE, PO Box 41170, Olympia, WA 98504-1170. For an electronic copy of this lesson, or to view other lesson plans, visit Educational Resources on the Washington Courts Web site at: www.courts.wa.gov/education/.
One class period (approximately 50 minutes)
As students describe their positions, fill in the positions along the line with more descriptive words. For example:
In York v. Wahkiakum School Dist. No. 200, 178 P.3d 995 (2008), the Washington Supreme Court ruled that suspicionless drug testing of students in extra-curricular activities without evidence of wrong-doing violates the Washington State Constitution.
The outcome is different for students living in other states, since the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Board of Education of Independent School Dist. No. 92 v. Earls, 122 S.Ct. 2559 (2002), that the U.S. Constitution permits a school to require all middle and high school students to consent to urinalysis drug testing in order to participate in any extracurriculuar activity.
The US Supreme Court expanded the Vernonia ruling which permitted school policies that required student athletes to consent to drug testing prior to playing on a school team. Vernonia v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995). In the Vernonia case, James Acton, who was a seventh grader during the 1991-92 school year, applied to be on football team. He was given a drug-test consent form for him and his parents to sign. This was done for every student trying out for sports. No one suspected James of using drugs. He and his parents refused to sign the form, and he was then suspended from interscholastic athletics. The Actons sued the school district. However, the Supreme Court ruled against the Actons, stating that students have a reduced expectation of privacy and should expect intrusions on their normal rights and privileges when they choose to participate in high school athletics. The Court used a balancing test. It weighed the students' privacy interests against the interests of the school district in providing a drug-free environment. The Court also pointed out the athletes regularly change clothes in front of each other and can expect to have less privacy. Because the Actons had also claimed that the drug testing violated the Oregon constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to the circuit court to decide whether the testing program violates the search and seizure protections of the Oregon constitution.
Ask students which decision they agree with and why. They may be interested to know why the Washington State Constitution can grant greater constitutional rights than the U.S. Supreme Court. Remind students that the U.S. Constitution sets the minimum and states are free to provide greater rights, as Washington State did in this area.
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