Drug testing students allowed to stand

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the ACLU of Indiana (then known as the Indiana Civil Liberties Union or ICLU) brought suit against several schools for policies regarding student drug testing.

  • In 1996, Rushville Consolidated High School approved a program prohibiting students from participating in extracurricular activities unless they consented to random, unannounced urinalysis tests for drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The ICLU filed suit on behalf of four sophomores in Todd v. Rush County Schools, but in 1998, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the school, saying its drug testing program did not violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

By a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld
the constitutionality of mandatory drug testing, saying students participating in extracurricular activities had a diminished expectation of privacy.

  • In 1997, Anderson High School suspended a male freshman student for fighting with another student. School policy required he take a drug test before being readmitted to school. The boy refused the drug test and was threatened with expulsion. The ICLU challenged the school's drug testing policy in Willis v. Anderson Comm. Sch. Corp., saying that fighting did not represent a cause for reasonable suspicion of substance abuse, and eventually prevailed in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1999, the Supreme Court of the United States let the decision stand.

  • In 1999, Northwestern School Corporation in Kokomo established a drug testing policy as part of "zero tolerance" toward drug usage. The policy applied to many, but not all extracurricular activities, and required students to consent to random testing for drugs, alcohol and nicotine. In Linke v. Northwestern Sch. Corp., the ICLU filed suit on behalf of two students, challenging the policy under the Indiana Constitution. Though we prevailed in 2000 in the Indiana Court of Appeals, in 2002, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that the drug testing was constitutional. Because the challenge was brought based upon the Indiana Constitution, there was no chance of review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 2002, when the Supreme Court of the United States did hear a case brought by two Tecumseh, Okla., students on Fourth Amendment grounds, the Court upheld 5-4 the constitutionality of mandatory drug testing, saying that students participating in extracurricular activities had a diminished expectation of privacy, and that the policy furthered an important interest of the school in preventing drug abuse among students.

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