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PA School Districts Sued Over Student Drug Testing

The ACLU and a Philadelphia law firm are suing two Pennsylvania school districts for maintaining random drug and alcohol testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities or who drive cars to school. The separate lawsuits were filed last week.

Some educators require remedial litigation to ensure they understand their students' privacy rights. (Image courtesy DVSD)
The US Supreme Court has held that the random drug testing of student athletes or students involved in extracurricular activities does not violate the US Constitution. But some state supreme courts, including Pennsylvania's, have found protections against random drug testing of students in their state constitutions.

The lawsuits filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the law firm Dechert LLP charge that the school districts have maintained student drug testing policies that violate a 2003 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision holding that random drug testing of students is unconstitutional unless the school districts can show that the group of students being tested had a high drug use rate. That case was Theodore v. Delaware Valley School District.

Delaware Valley is one of the districts named in the law suit. The other is the Panther Valley School District. Read the respective complaints here and here.

Delaware Valley, the defendant in the 2003 case, has never changed its policy, the complaint said. Instead, the district has "essentially ignored that ruling and continued to enforce the drug testing policy." The district has never attempted "to compile data that would support or refute a need for the policy" even though the Supreme Court held that any such policy "must be born out of a true and documented need for random testing of the student population affected."

The plaintiffs in the Delaware Valley lawsuit are Glenn and Kathy Kiederer and their two daughters, identified only by their initials. The Kiederers complain that when their daughters refused to sign drug testing consent forms, they were excluded from participating in athletics and extracurricular activities, ironically including joining the school's Junior Students Against Drug Abuse.

"We are very frustrated that the Delaware Valley School District has ignored the State Supreme Court's guidelines and has refused to change the drug testing policy to comply with the court opinion. We feel that the proper education for our children is to teach them to defend their constitutional rights, especially in the present times we are living in," said the Kiederers.

The Panther Valley suit was filed on behalf of high school senior Jeremy Thomas and his ninth-grade sister, identified only by her initials. According to the complaint, Thomas, an Eagle Scout and Junior ROTC member, was thrown off the school golf team after refusing to sign a consent form. He was also barred from attending the senior prom. Thomas's parents, Morgan and Donna, said in the lawsuit they refused to sign the consent form because they believe the drug testing program violates their son's right to privacy.

"These policies teach young people to accept extreme invasions of their privacy when they've done nothing wrong," said Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania and one of the attorneys representing the students and their parents. "Random drug testing is also counterproductive, as studies have shown that extracurricular activities help students avoid drug use. Schools should not be putting up barriers to students' participation in after-school activities," she continued.

Neither school district has yet responded publicly to the lawsuits.

PA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Consent form - just another way to give up your rights

If the schools really thought they had grounds to drug test a student, they wouldn't need the student to sign a consent form. Its just another subtle way to get people to give up their rights.

Brinna's picture

When will the rest of us start objecting to urine voodoo?

I applaud the moral character of the parents in refusing to give up on the personal rights of their children. I would hope that their integrity demands that they also object to random drug testing at their own place of employment. There is no place for such corporate overreach into the private lives of employees (or school children, for that matter). Safety is a bogus issue. What it is all about is culture modification and control.

Yo are crazy

The reason the schools do this is for the safety of the students and other people around them! Students should be tested randomly for drugs it could save their life and the life of people they avoid hitting with their cars because they are either drunk or high as a kite. So many kids OD on drugs, even at the young age of 13, I side 100% with  the schools on this matter. and frankly I can't even try to understand were you are coming from! I am A student myself and you have no idea how many kids my age I've watched throw their life away for a buzz, you ma'am or sir are smoking crack to borrow the colloquialism! to 

Correct indeed, sir.  Correct

Correct indeed, sir.  Correct indeed.

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