Public Schools, Drug Testing and the 4th Amendment

Should public schools be allowed to require student athletes to take drug tests in order to play sports?

That is a question facing the West Clark Community School District, located in Clark County, Indiana.

The school district has three high schools – Silver Creek High School, William W. Borden High School and Henryville High School.

According to reports, the district has decided to test 10 students from William W. Boden and Henryville High Schools each quarter for the use of 10 different drugs. Any student participating in any extracurricular activity will be subject to testing.

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On the surface, this sounds like a great plan, but is it?

According to John Whitehead, attorney and founder of The Rutherford Institute, says the schools’ drug testing plan is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Whitehead was quoted as saying:

“It’s an invasion of the body. It’s what our Founding Fathers gave us in our Constitution. They said the government cannot do this.”

“We’ve moved into a very dangerous territory here, and I would hope these schools would refocus and start teaching the Constitution. What I’ve found as a constitutional lawyer dealing with young people is most of them don’t have any idea what’s in the Constitution. We’re not teaching it anymore.”

So, what does the Fourth Amendment say?

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Does the random drug testing of high school students constitute a violation of the Fourth Amendment right of unreasonable search without probable cause? That’s what Whitehead is claiming.

I’m not an attorney or legal expert, but allow me to offer the following:

It has already been established that employers have the legal right to require drug testing before hiring anyone and they have been legally allowed to require random drug testing during the employment of individuals.

My wife and I both worked for a company that required every job applicant to take a drug test and this was legal. Refusal to be tested was reason to be denied a job. The company also performed random drug testing on employees and again, it was deemed to be legal and not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Whitehead raises the issue of public schools being part of the government and that the government couldn’t do this, but is that so?

I worked for a large utility that was technically a government institution. All of our vehicles had government license plates. Drug testing was not part of the hiring process, but some employees were subject to drug testing depending on circumstances. I knew a fellow employee who got hurt on the job and when he was sent to the doctor for treatment, he was required to take a blood test. There was no mention of it being a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Some states have been passing laws requiring people receiving some forms of assistance (welfare, etc.) to be drug tested and these laws have not been deemed to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Therefore, is Whitehead right or does the school district have the legal right to randomly drug test students who participate in extracurricular activities?

I’m all for protecting the rights of individuals, but in the case of drug testing for jobs, athletes and students participating in extracurricular activities, I believe that in a society that has such a rampant drug use problem, that such random drug testing should be legal and that if it’s okay for employers and government entities, then it should also be legal for schools.

What do you think?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

David Jolly
R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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