Pa. High Court Questions Random Student Drug Tests


A desire to discourage student drug use among students is justification for suspicionless drug screening of student-athletes, parking-permit holders, and participants in extracurricular activities, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled. The Associated Press says the decision means that a lawsuit by sisters who attended school in Delaware County can go forward.

The sisters’ attorney says the ruling gives Pennsylvania students privacy rights beyond the limits of a U.S. Supreme Court case last year that upheld random testing of students in an Oklahoma school district’s extracurricular activities. “What the Pennsylvania court did is [it] said, ‘Well, the Pennsylvania Constitution does recognize the privacy right.’ That is, it affords the students [a] broader right of privacy than the U.S. Supreme Court held,” said lawyer Robert N. Isseks.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion said the Delaware Valley School District did not prove that its students have a drug problem or how the testing policy addressed whatever problem might exist.

“The theory apparently is that, even in the absence of any suspicion of drug or alcohol abuse, it is appropriate to single these students out and say, in effect: ‘Choose one: your Pennsylvania constitutional right to privacy or the chess club,’ ” Justice Ronald D. Castille said.

The sisters, Kimberly and Jennifer Theodore, were tested because Jennifer belonged to the National Honor Society and academic clubs and Kimberly played several sports and sought a parking permit.


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