Magazine article District Administration

U.S. Supreme Court Weighs a New Kind of School Test. (Government Spotlight: The Latest News from and about Education from the U.S. Government)

Magazine article District Administration

U.S. Supreme Court Weighs a New Kind of School Test. (Government Spotlight: The Latest News from and about Education from the U.S. Government)

Article excerpt

Education officials await a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to determine if they can test students for drug use. Of course, schools already have the OK to test student athletes, but the outcome of the current case, heard in March, will determine if schools also can randomly test any student, particularly those who participate in extracurricular activities. The court is expected to issue a decision by mid-year.

The court upheld the fight of a school to test athletes in 1995. Arguments in that case claimed that athletes risk their own physical well-being and that of other students if they use drugs and play sports.

The new case, Board of Education vs. Earls, is based on the complaint of Lindsey Earls, a student from Tecumseh, Okla., who says she was angered and embarrassed when she and other students were pulled out of choir practice one afternoon three years ago and asked to supply urine samples. "It was really tense, with each girl in a stall, and a teacher we all knew outside listening for the sound of urination," she told the media. "The kids I hung out with didn't use drugs."

During oral arguments, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor questioned the effect drug testing would have on students involved in extracurricular activities. She questioned whether it was "counter intuitive" to randomly test these students. "The students you want to reach aren't the ones who participate in extracurricular activities,'" says Michael D. Simpson, assistant general counsel for the National Education Association. …

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