Appeals court blocks school drug testing
September 4, 2010
The state appeals court voted 3-0 Thursday to bar a California school district from drug testing high school students in extracurricular activities such as choir and Future Farmers of America. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Officials in the Shasta Union High School District in Northern California began the testing in 2008, arguing the prospect of being disqualified from a favorite after-school activity would discourage youths from using drugs or alcohol.
But the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled that the California Constitution’s guarantee of privacy is more protective of individual rights than the U.S. Constitution and may prohibit the drug screening.
The court upheld a Shasta County judge’s order halting the tests until a lawsuit by a group of students goes to trial.
“The district has not shown a specialized need to target students participating in (the activities) for drug and alcohol testing,” Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in the 3-0 ruling.
She said there was no evidence of a drug problem among students in programs like choir and Future Farmers of America, and little or no evidence that testing them would serve any useful purpose.
Drug testing in the Shasta district was previously limited to athletes, a program not challenged in the lawsuit. In support of the expansion, the superintendent and a school board member said they had heard reports of drug use in music programs.