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Search and Seizure in Schools

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Drug Testing in Schools
Search and Seizure in Schools
Getty Images/Sharon Dominick

Drug Testing in Schools

There have been several high profile cases dealing with random drug testing in schools particularly when it comes to athletics or extracurricular activities. The Supreme Court’s landmark decision on drug testing came in Vernonia School District 47J v Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995). Their decision found that the district’s student athletic drug policy which authorized random urinalysis drug testing of students who participated in its athletic programs was constitutional. This decision established four factors that subsequent courts have looked at when hearing similar cases. Those include:

  1. Privacy Interest – The Veronia Court found that schools require close supervision of children to provide a proper educational environment. In addition, they have the ability to enforce rules against students for something that would be permissible for an adult. Subsequently, school authorities act in loco parentis, which is Latin for, in place of the parent. Further, the Court ruled that a student’s expectation of privacy is less than a normal citizen and even less if an individual is a student-athlete who have reasons to expect intrusions.

  2. Degree of Intrusion – The Veronia Court decided that the degree of intrusion would depend upon the manner in which the production of the urine sample was monitored.

  3. Nature of Immediacy of the School’s Concern – The Veronia Court found that deterring drug use among students established proper concern by the district.

  4. Less Intrusive Means – The Veronia Court ruled that district’s policy was constitutional and appropriate.
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