Asseo, L. (1995, June 27). High court oks drug testing in school sports. San Diego Union Tribune, pp. A1, A9.
A Supreme Court ruling states that public schools can require drug tests for athletes, whether they are suspected users or not. The case began when a seventh-grader’s parents sued their school district because their son was banned from playing football after refusing to take a drug urinalysis. The ruling illustrates the Court’s attitude that sometimes privacy rights must be secondary to the fight against drugs.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "Deterring drug use by our nation’s schoolchildren is at least as important as enhancing efficient enforcement of the nation’s laws against the importation of drugs." Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in dissent that the ruling would subject many students who are not suspect for drug use to an "intrusive bodily search." President Clinton applauded the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the ruling makes it clear that drug use will not be tolerated in schools.
For the last eight years, the Grossmont Union High School District in Southern California has offered voluntary drug testing for athletic teams. Test results are given to students and parents but not to the school. Participants are randomly chosen throughout the school year and tested for drugs such as marijuana, alcohol, PCP, steroids, and methamphetamines. Funding is provided by DATE, the Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Education Program. However, Larry Martinsen, vice principal at Valhalla High School, says that current DATE funding may be insufficient if the Supreme Court ruling results in increased testing.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- What do you think about drug testing in schools?
- Do you feel that the required drug testing violates a student’s right to privacy?
- Educators, parents, and the government are finding it necessary to use drastic measures to curb drug use in kids. Meanwhile, students must decide whether their drug use is worth sacrificing school athletics and jeopardizing their academic careers.
- While mandatory testing may be a good deterrent for athletes, it does not address the problem of drug use in the student population at large.
Sheila Walsh cCYS