ACLU Joins in Suit Over Student Drug Testing 

ACLU Joins in Suit Over Student Drug Testing 
Posted by FoM on March 29, 2000 at 11:12:08 PT
By Laura Bailey, Journal Staff Writer
Source: Michigan Live
A Grand Blanc High School senior has enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union to assist in his challenge to the school district policy requiring student athletes to consent to random drug testing. 
Honors student and wrestling team hopeful Micah White said his constitutional right to not be subject to unreasonable search and seizure was violated when he was told he had to agree to testing before joining the team.White's parents, Ronald and Monica White, also are named as plaintiffs in the suit, filed Tuesday in Genesee County Circuit Court.White tried out for the wrestling team last fall, but was prohibited from joining because he refused to sign the drug-testing authorization form, the suit states. The form allowed the district to conduct Breathalyzer and urine tests.Grand Blanc has randomly tested its high school athletes since December 1998. Those testing positive can continue playing if they seek counseling and take follow-up tests.Subsequent positive tests require the student to withdraw from the sport.White is an outspoken student who has a penchant for forcing political issues. He gained national attention when he formed an atheist club in December 1998, and recently asked the Student Council to oppose the district's drug-testing policy.White and his supporters distributed about 400 pamphlets urging students to protest the drug-testing policy. The leaflet also gave instructions on how to beat the test.Reached at home, White referred questions to his attorneys. He also declined comment on behalf of his parents.In November, White exhausted his appeals on the wrestling team denial when he pleaded his case to the Grand Blanc Board of Education. The board upheld decisions keeping White off the team.White then approached the American Civil Liberties Union, said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan.The Fourth Amendment says there needs to be probable cause to search a person."In other words, this drug-testing program is basically when you take somebody's body fluid you are doing a search and seizure," said Flint attorney Gregory T. Gibbs, who is working with the ACLU to represent the Whites.A similar drug-testing program in Oregon has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, but White's case is being filed under the Michigan Constitution, which she said provides greater protection as to Fourth Amendment issues than the U.S. Constitution.In the Oregon case, justices reviewed the rationale for the policy, and found that student athletes were leaders of a drug culture in a school rife with drug abuse, Gibbs said.White's suit argues there is nothing to justify subjecting athletes to random searches, and that after a year only one student has tested positive.The complaint seeks more than $25,000 in damages and asks the court to halt the drug-testing policy. It was assigned to Genesee County Circuit Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut.According to the lawsuit, White has a 3.5 grade point average, is a National Merit commended student and a National Achievement Finalist. He has never been disciplined by the school district."We think it's really important that we not treat students as criminals and we not easily surrender their rights under the constitution, rights that everybody else expects to have," Moss said.Board President Lillian G. Mason referred questions to Superintendent Gary P. Lipe. The Journal could not reach Lipe for comment.Board member Jeffrey Zittel, who voted for the drug policy, said he didn't expect any legal challenges."You know it never really crossed my mind personally, only because again we're legally following the Supreme Court ruling, and the school is taking the approach we want to provide a vehicle to help the students, not punish them," he said.Critics of the policy said the district should test all high school students, not just athletes, or that the testing violates students' privacy.The school district argued the U.S. Supreme Court upheld athlete testing, but not testing of the general student body.When it was implemented, Grand Blanc's policy was only the second attempted in the state, and was to randomly select 20 percent of the athletes for testing. The tests are confidential.Laura Bailey covers the Grand Blanc and Goodrich areas. She can be reached at (810) 766-6331.Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2000Copyright 2000 Michigan Live Inc. Related Articles & Web Site: ACLU Files Suit Against Lockney ISD Drug-Testing Enters Lockney ISD Drug-Testing Controversy Files Lawsuit Against Lockney Schools Drug Testing Archives: 
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