COLUMN: School Drug Tests Violate Student Rights 

COLUMN: School Drug Tests Violate Student Rights 
Posted by FoM on February 18, 2000 at 17:02:39 PT
By Chris Huffines, The Battalion, Texas A&M U.
Source: U-WIRE
Every so often, small-town residents get the crazy idea that something is seriously wrong with their town and they go to extreme lengths in the futile attempt to fix it. Look at Salem and witches. In response to a perceived drug problem the school board of Lockney, Texas has begun requiring drug testing at the beginning of the school year for all students and random monthly testing throughout the rest of the term. 
This policy came about because a couple of years ago 13 residents who were not even students, were indicted for distributing and using cocaine and marijuana in the town of 2,243. Brady Tannahill, a 12-year-old student, is the only one of 339 students refusing to take the drug test, and he is now being punished as if he had taken the test and it came back positive. What the school board of Lockney is doing is not only unconstitutional, it rips at the fabric of the educational system. This policy is unconstitutional for two distinct reasons. The first is that this procedure violates the students' right to privacy. The school has no probable cause to force the students to be tested for drug use. In addition, the students have no choice but to take the tests. Enrollment in school is mandatory, and short of attending private or being home schooled (both expensive, difficult options), students are basically required by the government to take drug tests. This is illegal. Mandatory drug tests are a requirement of some jobs and extracurricular activities, but no one forces an individual to accept a particular job or to participate in a particular activity. Employment and extra-curricular activities are optional, and the drug test is an unfortunate consequence of choosing to take advantage of the option. School is not an option, and requiring students to take drug tests is forcing the students to give up their right to privacy. Furthermore, this policy is unconstitutional because it assumes guilt. The Constitution guarantees all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. However, Tannahill is being punished as if he had tested positive for drugs. Tannahill refused to submit to a humiliating, illegal procedure, and is being punished as if he is some washed-up dopehead. Ain't Lockney justice grand? While police officers arrest and punish suspects who refuse to take a breathalyzer test, officers do not pull over everyone on the highway and request a test. They wait until they have probable cause to believe a suspect is drunk before they even think about testing. Many parents, and many conservatives for that matter, would say that students in school do not have significant rights, and should be quiet and enjoy the free education. It is true that the Supreme Court has found students do leave certain rights, most notably free speech, at the schoolhouse gate. However, these rights are only abridged if doing so is in the interests of education. Student newspapers (in high school, not at a university) can be prevented from criticizing the school if the principal believes the censorship is in the interest of education. Is testing students for drugs in the best interests of education? Is forcing every student in grades six through 12 to urinate into a little plastic cup, just because some people got caught with drugs a few years ago, in the best interests of education? Is punishing a 12-year-old student for standing up for himself in the best interests of education? Lockney residents cite the arrests and the increasing use of drugs in small-town America as ample justification for their policy. This same logic states that, because 35 students were scholastically dishonest last year, and scholastic dishonesty as a whole is on the rise in the country, every student at Texas A&M should receive a strip search immediately before each exam because somebody might have hidden crib notes. Such a program would be beyond absurd, just like Lockney's drug tests. What is perhaps worse is the hypocrisy displayed by the school board and superintendent Raymond Lusk. While speaking to CNN, Lusk responded to questions concerning lawsuits by saying, "If it's the right thing to do, you don't let the threat of someone suing you stop you." This must only apply to grown-ups, and not students. Lusk can do "the right thing," but Tannahill is condemned to in-school suspension for upholding exactly the same principle Lusk is patting himself on the back for. The educational system serves the triple purpose of giving students knowledge, instilling the ability to think, and helping them develop character. The constant interruptions of drug testing, combined with the blatant lack of trust displayed by the school toward its students and staff, will hurt the first two tenets of education. The hypocrisy shown by Lusk destroys students' faith in the faculty, which could bring about the moral breakdown that the citizens of Lockney fear. Students who feel like they are not trusted will not be able to form the attachments to adults that help foster moral character. No trust means no morals. Lockney's citizens are not only being hypocritical and untrusting; they are wrong. These drug tests are unconstitutional and must be stopped. Students in public school are not automatically criminals, nor should they be treated as such just for standing up for themselves. Brady Tannahill is being punished for taking the principles he was taught to heart by the very people whose duty it is to teach him. At least they are not burning him at the stake. (U-WIRE) College Station, Texas Published: February 17, 2000(C) 2000 The Battalion via U-WIRE Copyright  1995-2000 Excite Inc.Related Articles:Drug Mistreatment Fights School Suspension of Son Over Mandatory Drug Tests News Drug Testing Archives: 
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 18, 2000 at 19:15:04 PT
The logical consequence of a long series
of terrible mistakes.In loco parentis. The term means, 'in place of parents'. And it is the legal concept behind each and every action a school system takes vis-a-vis it's students. In essence, it is an assumption, since very few parents are actually asked how a school should behave towards their students.Based on this assumption, for the last 25 years, various school systems have been formulating a set of 'student rights' rules to govern student behavior. But when shorn of all its' fancy wordage, the schools get the upper hand and are able to nullify any 'student rights' that they grant.So what does this teach the students? They get lessons in civic class of the benefits of being good citizens, but see none of those benefits because their rights are violated on a daily basis. They are taught (presumably) about the Constitution... and learn it doesn't apply to them. And now, they learn that they are suspected of being criminals and are treated accordingly.They are being taught a lesson in power. And when it is their turn to exercise that power, don't expect them to respect *your* rights. 
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