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ACLU sues Pennsylvania school district over drug testing

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) [advocacy website] on Wednesday sued [complaint, PDF] the Solanco School District [school website] in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on behalf of an 11-year-old girl who is required to submit to a drug test. The new school policy requires that students who participate in extracurricular activities submit to random, suspicionless drug tests. As a result of her refusal to submit to the test, the girl cannot participate in orchestra or chorus until she submits to the test. The ACLU-PA believes that the test violates a Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruling [press release] from 2003 that requires school districts to justify such suspicionless tests. The group also believes that the testing violates the ruling because the school district has provided no evidence to indicate why it is necessary to institute such a policy among the students.

At no point prior to the passage of Policy 227.2 did Solanco analyze drug use by sixth through twelfth grade students involved in school activities, or the efficacy of a policy of randomly drug testing only active and involved students as a way to address any district-wide drug concerns. In fact, the Policy and statement by school officials indicate that Solanco School District has structured its drug policy to force as much of the student body as possible into the random drug testing pool without considering why particular groups or activities should be included.
The ACLU-PA has requested that the law be deemed unconstitutional and is seeking permanent injunctive relief to prevent the school district from implementing the policy.

Drug testing policies have come under fire in recent years. Earlier this week Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Drug-Free Workplace Act [JURIST report], which allows state employers to randomly test up to 10 percent of their workforce. In 2011 Florida passed a law requiring people who receive welfare to submit to drug test. That law was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in October 2011 and is currently on appeal. In 2004 a court banned [JURIST report] the Department of Juvenile Justice in Florida from requiring its employees to submit to random drug tests. The court there found that the drug testing policy could continue, but only in regards to suspicious employees.

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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