School Violence and Weapons: Drug Testing
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 19, 2017
The debate over whether schools can implement mandatory, random drug tests to students using either urine analysis or blood testing has also been widely debated in the courts. In Jones v. McKenzie (1986) the courts held that drug tests violate a student's reasonable expectation of privacy. Since this case, the courts have been careful to distinguish between mandatory and voluntary drug testing, since the latter requires consent of the student.
Student athletes have long been subjected to different rules. Many athletic programs are required by their governing bodies to perform random, mandatory drug testing on athletes using urine analysis. In 1998, the U. S. Supreme Court declined to hear a constitutional challenge to a random drug testing policy of students involved in extracurricular activities that was implemented in an Indiana school district (Todd v. Rush County). This decision not to hear the case meant that the Supreme Court endorses random drug testing of student athletes and students involved in other extracurricular activities. This decision was in keeping with the courts ruling in Vernonia School District 47J v. Action (1995). In this case, the Supreme Court held that urine testing of student athletes was reasonable on the grounds that school order and discipline outweigh individual students' privacy. Further, student athletes should have a reduced expectation of privacy given that their grades and medical history are subject to scrutiny, and they are often placed in a communal setting for dressing and showering.
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