Kenova, WV asked in Constitutional Law for Ohio

Q: Interpretation of Vernonia School District v. Acton and BOE vs Earls with school drug testing.

Is it legal for a Middle School student to be random drug tested?

The Ohio school in my case is requiring students at random to do urine drug tests with out parent approval. The school believes this is legal as the student participated in a sport but I do not believe so. The student participated in a fall sport and this is far from that sport season or the upcoming season. From my interpretation of past cases it appears the circumstances of this instance do not have a clear answer. I feel that past cases involving student athletes dealt with schools testing before and during the season as a safety measure. Drug testing months after the season completes and when not signed up for upcoming extra curricular activities I believe this is a 4th amendment violation as this is a seizure. Looking for others interpretations of the law.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Matthew Williams
Matthew Williams
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: Both cases upheld testing requirements. So they don’t really help your position. But it sounds like the circumstance is different as your case doesn’t involve a student currently participating or about to participate in extracurricular activities, a specific issue which has not, to my knowledge, been addressed by the Supreme Court. But the Earls case previews what is likely to happen. There the court allowed testing for any extracurricular. The schools interests in detecting and addressing drug use, not safety, was the primary rationale. While it may be unsafe for a student to participate in sports after say smoking marijuana, the same argument becomes untenable when applied to say speech and debate club. It seems likely the court will ultimately decide schools can drug test students because the school stand in loco parentis for significant periods of supervision during which drug use can and does occur leading to harm.

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