My Kid Is Drug-Free
Mandatory drug tests.
It's an outcry that's been heard in school districts across the country. But
after several decades of Supreme Court rulings, legal experts say that
districts only have the clear right to test students engaged in sports or other
extracurricular activities. Blanket testing of all students has not yet been
reviewed by the high court.
The right of schools to test athletes stems from a 1995 case in which the
Supreme Court upheld a Veronia, Ore., school district's policy of testing all
student athletes. Other federal courts later expanded the scope of that ruling
to include students involved in other school-sponsored extracurricular
Writing for the majority in the Oregon case, Justice Antonin Scalia reasoned
that testing student athletes is justified because other students might emulate
them. "It seems to us self-evident that a drug problem largely fueled by
the 'role model' effect of athletes' drug use, and of particular danger to
athletes, is effectively addressed by making sure that athletes do not use
drugs," he wrote.
Broad testing policies are being challenged in other parts of the country as
well. In Maryland, the ACLU and a group of parents have filed suit against
Talbot County school officials, who in January ordered urine testing of 18
students at Easton High School. All of them had attended a party where drugs
were said to have been used. The specimen bottles were lined up on the stage of
the school auditorium where they could be viewed by students, teachers, and
parents. They were then tested with cheap throwaway kits similar to those used
for home pregnancy tests.
One of those tested was 15-year-old Jamie Nolan, who said she felt violated
by the process. "I did not appreciate that the school took time during --
review for final exams in order to wrongfully accuse us and make us feel
guilty," she told WebMD.
Another Easton High student who tested positive was expelled -- and then
reinstated when a private testing company reexamined the student's specimen and
found no evidence of drug use.
The Lockney case is now in discovery and is not expected to be heard in
federal court until the end of the year. Eventually, ACLU lawyers predict, it
could end up at the Supreme Court, where the justices may finally determine how
far school districts can go in their search for students on drugs.
Meanwhile, the Tannahills are using their mutual love of baseball to help
them cope with the tension of the case. The end of a long day is often the
beginning of a long game of catch in the front yard of their home. Larry has
coached Brady's baseball teams for years, watching him rise from T-ball to the
"major league" level in the area's Little League program.