Newsbrief: New Jersey Student Sues Over Drug Tests, Expulsion 5/21/04

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Under its zero-tolerance anti-drug policy, the Washington Township, New Jersey, school district expelled Adam Gutin in August 2000 and has kept him from returning ever since. Gutin was expelled after testing positive for marijuana in a school-administered drug test. Now, he is suing the school district in federal court, charging that both the drug testing and the district's harsh punishment are unconstitutional.

In the lawsuit filed last month, Gutin claims that although he consented to be tested, he was too young to lawfully consent, and his parents did not give permission. In one case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld school drug testing at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, the court noted the school district in question required consent from both student and parent.

Gutin's attorney, Christopher Manganello, told the South Jersey News that he was also suing on the grounds that Gutin did not receive equal protection under the law. Gutin was deprived of a "free and appropriate public education" because of the district's zero-tolerance policy. The district did not consider "reasonable alternative educational options," the lawsuit alleges.

In the Hunterdon case upheld by the State Supreme Court, students who tested positive were not expelled but only suspended from non-educational activities and required to take counseling or other treatment. The district also established an assistance program that provided drug counseling for students and their families. But the Washington Township school system provides none of that – only expulsion.

Gutin and his parents are suing for punitive damages as well as damages to cover fees and the costs of repeated appeals. Legal costs for the appeals have been "substantial," Manganello said.

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Issue #338, 5/21/04 Editorial: Benefit of the Doubt | Vermont Becomes Ninth State to Legalize Medical Marijuana – Other States See Progress and Setbacks | Not With a Bang but a Whimper: California Pain Doctor Frank Fisher Exonerated in Last Criminal Case | Needle Exchange in New Jersey? Atlantic City Says Yes, Attorney General Says No | Dope and Diplomacy in Dublin: European Union Conference Tries to Lay Groundwork for Continental Drug Strategy | Announcing: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" – New Compendium by Sheriff Masters Features David Borden and Numerous Other Thinkers on Drug Policy | Newsbrief: New Jersey Student Sues Over Drug Tests, Expulsion | Newsbrief: Drug War Invades Ultimate Frisbee | Newsbrief: One in 11 US Prisoners Doing Life, Study Finds | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Bill to Reform Harsh Tennessee Marijuana Sales Law Dies Lonely Death | Newsbrief: Afghan Government Concedes It Includes Traffickers | Newsbrief: Rural Maryland Cops Force Students to Disrobe During Drug Raid | Web Scan: Ron Paul, Mayor Campbell, Westword, Nature, ACLU-TX Task Force Report, New DPFMA Web Site | Job Opportunity – Research Assistant, Office of Legal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Oakland, California | The Reformer's Calendar

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