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In Some Cases, Random Drug Testing Of Students Is Legal

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Can a high school randomly drug test its students?

When a Catholic school in suburban Philadelphia announced it would randomly drug test students, people were outraged. And by people, I mean, students. Parents generally liked the idea, but wondered: is random drug testing of students legal? That depends on who’s doing the testing and who’s being tested.

Here’s the thing. The Fourth Amendment says that a person can’t be subject to an unreasonable search and seizure by public officials.

Private schools, like the Catholic school in question, aren’t bound by the same rules. But for public schools who are bound by Constitutional restrictions, is a random drug test unreasonable?

The U.S. Supreme Court decided that it will allow random drug tests for all public middle and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. But even so, in order to be legal, a random drug test has to be for what the court calls “non-punitive” purposes like helping students with drug problems, or giving students a reason to say no to drug use.

So drug testing is legal, if unpopular, among the student body.

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