ACLU Expresses Concern over Jackson-Milton Drug Test Policy
In a letter to Jackson-Milton Schools Superintendent James Infante, dated August 26, 1999, ACLU of Ohio Associate Legal Director Gino Scarselli expressed the ACLU’s deep concern over plans by the North Jackson-Milton School District to begin drug testing all pupils in grades 7 through 12 who are involved in extracurricular activities for alcohol and drugs.
“Forcing students who participate in extracurricular activities to take a drug test, without any suspicion of wrongdoing, is well beyond what is permitted under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Scarselli. “It is the ACLU’s recommendation that the school district rethink its plans and work towards combating any real or imagined drug problems in its schools in a way that does not run afoul of the Bill of Rights,” added Scarselli.
In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schools may drug test student athletes. In that case, the school had a history of drug problems and it was shown that the school’s drug problems involved, in part, players on the school’s football team. The Court also considered that athletes have a special, role model status in schools and that, as athletes, they enjoy a lessened expectation of privacy. However, the issue of drug testing students involved in extracurricular activities has never been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and it is the contention of the ACLU that expanding the scope of drug testing to such unprecedented levels is unconstitutional.
The ACLU recently filed a federal lawsuit against a school district in Oklahoma with an almost identical policy and has been involved in similar challenges across the country, including in New Jersey, Indiana and Washington.