Pubdate: Wed, 03 Apr 2002
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2002, The E.W. Scripps Co.
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


BAD IDEA: Case before Supreme Court would expand such scrutiny to all 
after-school activities.

Those who advocate expanded random drug tests for public school students 
involved in after-school activities from band to chess club have a worthy 
purpose in mind. They want to stamp out drug use among teen-agers.

They insist that such testing will deter illegal drug use by students 
before it becomes a problem in a school. They are also championing the '80s 
notion that it gives students a chance to just say no to drugs.

What they aren't mentioning is that the Oklahoma case currently before the 
U.S. Supreme Court is yet another attack on personal privacy. Besides being 
extremely intrusive and demeaning to young students, it goes against the 
very notion of individual rights, precisely why we find such drug testing 

At issue is whether the Fourth Amendment right that protects against 
unreasonable searches and seizures should be stretched to allow these drug 
tests without any evidence that the student or the school has a drug 
problem. Clearly, the high school drug tests fail this test.

However, in a 1995 ruling, the Supreme Count gave its blessing to random 
drug tests for student athletes, saying, "School sports are not for the 
bashful," and that athletes are role models for their classmates.

Now, lawyers for a public school district in rural Oklahoma want to open 
the schoolhouse door even farther by expanding random drug tests to include 
students involved in other extracurricular activities, such as orchestra, 
choir, band and debate. If this is green-lighted by the Supreme Court, can 
universal drug testing in public schools be far behind?

Just as lower courts have differing views on expanded drug testing, so do 
Ventura County public schools. Locally, some high schools, such as 
Moorpark, for instance, have no drug testing. Others, including Buena and 
Westlake high schools, only test student athletes, while Simi Valley 
schools have voluntary drug testing for everyone involved in 
extracurricular activities -- not just athletes.

Yes, there is a place for drug testing. Airline pilots, railroad engineers, 
customs agents and others. But the head of the high school debating team, 
or the top player in the chess club? Come on.

The best way to keep young kids away from drugs is to get them involved in 
after-school activities. Frankly, it makes no sense to erect barriers that 
may keep students out. But wait, you say, extra- curricular activities are 
not compulsory, so the marching band students who object to the indignities 
of giving a urine sample can simply choose not to march. They can, but try 
getting into a good university without such activities.

Students should not have to surrender their rights to participate in 
after-school activities.

In short, the 1995 ruling was troublesome; allowing broader scrutiny of 
high school students would be wrong.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom