Pubdate: Mon, 25 Mar 2002
Source: Ada Evening News, The (OK)
Copyright: 2002 The Ada Evening News
Author: Lone Beasley


In 1998 the public school district in Tecumseh, Oklahoma instituted a drug 
testing policy for students wanting to take part in competitive 
extracurricular activities. School officials said in order to participate, 
students had to make themselves subject to random drug testing throughout 
the year.

Two students challenged the policy as an infringement on their rights as 
guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects us 
from unreasonable and unwarranted searches.

The student named in the complaint wanted to sing in the school choir and 
play in the school band but did not want to be subject to random drug 
testing. Since there was no compelling reason to think these particular 
students were taking illegal drugs, ACLU lawyers said any form of drug 
testing was unreasonable, unwarranted and, therefore, unconstitutional.

The Oklahoma district court found the school board's policy permissible. 
But this is America where there is almost always a higher court with whom 
to share grievances. Enter the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which 
reversed the lower court decision and found for the students.

Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court also heard the case and, by most accounts, 
sounded as though it was leaning toward agreeing with the school district. 
According to a New York Times report, during arguments the ACLU attorney 
complained that the school district had adopted the policy in the absence 
of any demonstrated disciplinary problem. Justice Scalia bristled at this, 
saying, "So long as you have a bunch of druggies who are orderly in class, 
the school can take no action. That's what you want us to rule?" Justice 
Kennedy put another twist to the argument, telling the ACLU attorney, "It 
seems to me that if a school district is better than other districts, with 
less drug use, they're entitled to keep it that way. You seem to be saying 
that there has to be a great crisis, where we lose a few years to drugs." 
And that is precisely the point. School officials must demand certain 
orderly behavior from those attending their institutions, and this includes 
incorporating necessary preventive measures to ensure students do not use 
illegal drugs. Drug use in America is epidemic. It is not unreasonable for 
school officials to incorporate random drug testing to keep their 
institutions clean.
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