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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who's right is it anyway?

In New Jersey v. T.L.O., the Supreme Court held that students have a 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search in the schools.

This mainly applies to searching the student's personal property, such as a book bag. Well, what about random drug testing? Should schools be permitted to conduct random drug testing? If so, who is subject to it? The entire student body? Members of clubs and sports teams? Does this violate a student's privacy, or do we as school personnel and/or parents have a duty to protect children from the harm drugs can do?

Who will protect my privacy anymore?!?!
This blog was created by Jessica Tubertini.


Tjasa said...

No one in schools has the right to search the student's property (e.g. book bag) without the right justification for it. If the school administration is informed by someone that a certain student is carrying a gun/knife/bomb in his/her book bag, than the search should take place to ensure the safety of the entire school (in this case one cannot take chances since many lives may be at risk).

I would be totally for drug testing in schools, especially when it comes to athletes. Each student is well aware of how drugs have a negative effect on the student's body and mind so therefore they should stay away from them. Further, it would be great if schools would do random drug testing on the entire student body (as well as the teachers) a couple of times per year to see how many students engage in drug abuse and to get them the proper help. I'm sure the results would shock many parents and school administrators.

Although, it would be nice to have random drug testing in schools, it will never happen since it would violate the student's privacy.

Jessica S said...

I think that there are many students who are not aware of the harmful effects of drugs on the body. It sounds like you think drug testing should be a punishment, and not, perhaps, a protective measure.
And, as far as random drug testing is concerned, I'm glad we don't live in a dictatorship that violates rights "willy-nilly".
I understand that people are scared about drugs in schools, as am I, but it's just when people are scared that they start giving up their rights. As a parent, I would NEVER consent to having my child drug tested without cause.And as a teacher who is completely drug free, I would quit my job before I consented to be randomly drug tested.
And, I must disagree, but I think the results of random drug testing wouldn't shock anyone, or at least it shouldn't.
I can't understand why it would be nice to have something in a school like random drug testing that would violate students and teachers rights. What are we teaching kids then, anyway?

Melissa said...

I think that random drug testing is appropriate under the right circumatances. If a student is suspected by a teacher of drug use they should be tested. Drug free programs are implemented in schools to raise awareness of the harmful effects of drug use, and I think that the school plays a role in making sure that their students stay drug free. It is illegal to use drugs, and if a student is suspected of drug use then the school should have the right to test him, and then take appropriate actions. I assume that parents would like to know if their child was using drugs so they could get them the help that they need.

I don't think that school systems would randomly test the entire student body because it would be a hassle. drug testing the entire student body would take a lot of time and cost a lot of money. I think that's where prevention takes place and school systems implement drug prevention programs, and if we suspect drug use then we intervene on an indivdual basis.

Tahina said...

I would never, ever think twice about allowing schools to do random searches of student's property. Although each student is protected by the 4th Ammendment, EVERYONE (including parents) must understand that it must be done is there is reasonable cause. I went to High School in Newark. In those four years, nothing major happened which made me fear for my safety. However, since school administrators, parents and students know that Newark is such a high crime area, the students had to go through metal detectors, get wanded by a security guard, and have their bags searched prior to entering the school grounds. I never considered whether or not this violated my privacy. I always knew it was to ensure safety. If this is what had to be done in such a high crime area, so be it. The gang activity, and other crimes in the area was enough reasonable cause to do these random searches.
In addition, I don't think this should be restricted to high crime, urban areas. Violence can happen anywhere. We all know about school shootings/stabbings in prominent suburban areas.

SBartolozzi said...

I know of a high school that does have random drug testing. All students that are involved in any sort of extra-curricular activity have to get permission from their parents to be randomly drug tested. So, if parents want their children to be able to participate in any activity (sport, club, SGO, etc.) then the must agree to that. During the school year, they choose random times to have drug tests and call down whoever is chosen.

I think that it actually does work. I'm not sure of the consequence, but I believe there is a program that the child must go through if he/she tests positive and then there are like steps to follow.

As far as property, I agree with Tjasa that the school has no right to search lockers or property without justification or reason to believe the student has something illegal.

Desiree Antas said...

In the case of Vernonia School District v. Acton in 1995 the Supreme court upheld that students athletes could be randomly drug tested. In 2002 in the case of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the Supreme court ruled to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. With the ruling of these two cases it expanded the range of drug testing in public schools.

I think it would be a good idea to have random drug tests for every student. If a student came up positive I don't think they should punished. Also the drug results should be kept confidential so there is no stigma placed on the student. The parents should of course be notified because in most instances the student is under 18, but there is no reason to tell the teachers for example, who might see that student in a different light and treat him or her negatively due to their previous or ongoing drug use. The purpose of the test should be to get the student help before their experimentation turns into a painful addiction that leaves that student powerless.

Jessica S said...

If a school has no right to search a locker or book bag without reasonable cause, then why do they have the right to take a urine specimen from a student without reasonable cause? If it's all to protect them, then why are certain things off limits and other are not?
And, what most of you are saying is that if a school suspects a child of using drugs or if a parent consents, then it's okay.
But that's not the question.
The question is, is it okay to test randomly. Randomly means it is school policy to just test whenever and whomever, with or without cause. Even if there is no suspicion that the student is using. Randomly. Are you okay with that?
If a child tells a school psychologist that his friends (unnamed) are doing drugs, we must keep that confidential. And, I as a parent I would certainly like to know if that was happening because that would mean that my child is quite possibly using as well. But as school psychologists we have an obligation to keep that information confidential.
In Newark,a known high crime area, it is appropriate to set up searches for weapons.The administration has reasonable cause. Testing any and every student for drugs with or without reasonable cause is a different story and it is a violation.
And for that matter, speeding drivers are a hazard to us all, so should we have speed cameras on every mile of all of our highways?
I think we all would have lots of tickets to pay. Just a thought.

Jesse S said...

I think that within a school students should be able to have their right to privacy. However a lot of issues that arise in school could be prevented if more measures of security were taken. In my opinion students should be looked upon as individuals and things like school wide drug testing and such should not be permitted. I think that it is a teachers responsibility to refer at risk students to counselors, school psychologists and administrators. In doing so a student will have multiple people take them into consideration and if they all agree that the student does in fact have a reason to be searched or have a drug test performed then it is a unanimous decision and it is for the best interest of the student. At the same time I wish that in my years in high school teachers could have been more attune or perhaps just cared enough to deal with outright issues. Looking back at all of the drinking, smoking and recreational drug use that went on during school hours it is kind of sad to think that so much got past the eyes of those who were in charge. All in all my opinion is that while rights should not be violated teachers and administrators should not use this as an excuse to let students get away with hurting themselves or others, because that is a violation of the safe environment that is promised to every student.

Tjasa said...

Jessica S,

I will have to disagree with you. I believe that many students have no clue how much are drugs really dangerous and they are unaware of the long-term consequences of drug abuse.

Also, I do not see the reason why would you as a parent object to having your child drug tested (if that was the school's policy)? If you child is not engaging in any drug abuse than you should not worry about it. Correct?

Finally, you may be the teacher who is drug free but how do we know others are?

The article found at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/564/west_virginia_teacher_drug_testing is quite interesting so I decided to post it here for everyone.

Jessica S said...

Actually, I said that many students don't know the harmful effects of drugs on their bodies.
I think you were the one who actually said that they are well aware of the risk and that they shouldn't be doing drugs.(I agree they shouldn't be)
The reason why I would never let a school test my child for drugs with no cause is because it violates their rights.
It's not a matter of having something to worry about or having something to hide. My children have a right not to have to piss in a cup for no reason. If they are SUSPECTED of abusing drugs and there is REASONABLE evidence of this, that is a different story. It's also school policy where I live to suspend anyone involved in a fight, even if they don't start it and don't hit back. Just because it's school policy doesn't make it fair.
And as far as teachers go, should we fire every teacher who speeds or drinks and drives?
I had 2 teachers who got DUI's. Do we give them a piss test everyday to make sure they aren't drunk?
I digresss...I do think that teachers and staff need to become more aware of the signs that a student may be at-risk and act in a swift and appropriate fashion to intervine on behalf of the student to get him/her the proper help.

Jessica S said...

interesting article that says random drug testing is not effective.

Jessica S said...

another interesting article.

Angelica said...

I completely agree with Jessica S. and Melissa. Random drug testing is appropriate but only under the right circumstances. We can't just go around harrassing the whole student body and faculty whenever we please. Instead, we should be raising awareness about the harful effects of drugs and developing more compaings and protective measures so that students are protected against drugs within their schools and so they also don't feel intimidated to come foward or speak up if they know anyone involved with drugs. In this situation, where anonymous attention is brought to a specific individual, then a random drug test on that individual would be approprate. Because, like Jessica S. I too would not like having my child's rights, or even my own rights as a faculty to be violated with no basis whatsoever.

Tahina said...

What I mostly agree with when it comes to random drug testing is that it has to be with a REASONABLE cause. Of course, thats what most of us agree with. I went on http://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com to check out some information and statistics about adolescent drug use and here are some facts:
Nationwide, 47.2% of students have used marijuana during their lifetime.
81% of students had had more than one drink of alcohol in their lifetime.
32.2% of students had their first drink of alcohol (more than a few sips) before the age of 13.
11.3% of students had tried marijuana before the age of 13.
30.2% of students had been offered, sold, or taken an illegal drug on school property less than 12 months preceding the survey.
And these facts (including some about crack and huffing areosol cans) are way up from a similar survey in 1992. The increase could be because of new "designer" drugs that didn't exist 20-30 years ago, i.e., Ecstacy pills. If these numbers continue to increase or if teens discover (or make-up) new ways to get high, schools just may implement random drug testing to the student body. Whether it's a hassle or costs too much money, school administrators and parents alike may just want to be more safe than sorry.

Jamie Cowan said...

I think randomly drug testing the entire student population may send mixed signals to the students, parents and community. Some may perceive the random drug testing as a preventative and pro-active measure to ensure safety and well-being to students and this may create an atmosphere of security for them. Yet, on the other hand, it may create an atmosphere of distrust and negativity among others who feel the school system is "out to get them" or violating their rights. Schools are supposed to create an environment most suitable for learning, and more learning takes place when students feel secure in their environment. The 4th Amendment, as it applies to schools, attempts to unite these two extremes by the need of reasonable suspicion of drug use. So policies should remain as they are, as well as extra training for teachers and staff in identifying and properly intervening with students who may be suspected as drug users. I feel this would create the most beneficial learning environment.

Tami said...

I agree that random drug testing of a student, and even of faculty, should only be done with reasonable cause. I do not feel as if it is appropriate to randomly drug test the entire school, nor is it beneficial. In addition, I feel Jamie brought up a very good point about a negative atmosphere in the school surfacing due to random drug tests. I do agree with the idea that random drug testing does violate the rights of both students and faculty. I feel that there would be many people who would develop a negative attitude and outlook if a school district was to implement random tests. Random drug testing may be insulting to both students and faculty saying they cannot be trusted. Although I believe the purpose for random testing would be to ensure safety and protection, I feel we would see more negative than positive arise from the testing.

Desiree Antas said...

All of us are going to be doing our internships for one semester in one urban district. From what I have
seen thus far from only doing twenty some what practicum hours in an urban district is frightening. For example, one student was on the phone with someone else at 12:30 p.m. during his English class telling the person on the other end he was at school and he would “get at them at 3:00 to meet him”. I immediately thought by his appearance and by that phone call that this kid is dealing drugs. I try not to be judgmental, but from what I observed and my instinct is that this kid is dealing. If he was speaking to one of his peers wouldn’t that person be at school at that particular time? Why is one of his peers calling him during school hours? Growing up in the city I have seen all walks of life from lower socioeconomic status to middle to high. You become aware of the signs and you pick up on the implicit sayings. If random searches or drug testing was enforced it would undoubtedly crack down on students like this who probably bring the drugs to school with them. If students have nothing to hide then why would that student or parent object to such a scenario? School is supposed to be a safe haven for our youth; somewhere where students leave their outside life behind them for six hours and focus on their future. Without education you don’t have a future period. With the way our economy is now it is competitive to just get a job stocking shelves. Point blank things are serious and from the looks of it things don’t look like they are getting any better any sooner. If we can crack down on drugs in our school by randomly drug testing students and randomly searching so be it. We are supposed to be educators here making interventions to help these students that don’t have the backbone of a supportive family. Like I mentioned previously in my other blog these students should not be subjected to punishment, but to TRY to make them see the light that if you strive and work hard through academics there is a way out of the “ghetto” besides selling drugs.

Jessica S said...

Yes, school is supposed to be a safe haven, including being safe from unreasonable search.
What if I suspect you are dealing drugs out of your house?
Can the police come and search your property just because I said so? NO! Should they be able to just because?
it's funny that people talk about safety, but why does safety have to come at the expense of our rights?
And just because you thought he was a drug dealer, should that open him up to search?
What else are you basing your conclusion on?
If we as a society thought that other were guilty of some crime and were permitted to act on that, we'd all be in jail!
it's not about having something to hide, it's about having rights to protect. As I said, I am completely drug free and I would quit my job before I was forced to be drug tested.
It's a matter of principle.
If we start here, where do we stop?

Desiree Antas said...

Jessica, if you call the police and say I am dealing drugs out of my house the police cannot raid my house right there and then. BUT for sure the police will follow up on that tip and have surveillance on my house to gather enough information to bring to a judge to get a search warrant. SO if a student approaches me and says that kid is dealing drugs maybe I wouldn’t do anything at THAT point, BUT I would pay extra attention to the student in question and if I came across anything to make me believe that that information was in fact true THEN I would act on it.
I only saw this student on one occasion in one setting and I am not saying I am 100% certain, but in my opinion based on that one observation I would bet he was. I could be wrong, but that was my feeling.
I'm sorry but what rights should these kids have when it comes to abusing drugs and ruining their future? If a teacher or a psychologist in the school suspected my son was doing or dealing drugs than you know what his friggen rights go out the window at that point and I would want someone to intervene and inform me. I wouldn't be sitting there saying to them I can't believe you violated his rights! I would thank them that they cared enough to do something about it.
We stand on opposite sides of the fence on this issue, which is great because it sparks a debate and it really gets us thinking about these issues and where we stand. We are all entitled to our own opinion and are encouraged to share it (There we go one right we agree on Amendment one freedom of speech, lol).

Laura M said...

Desiree, if you tell the police that you think your neighbor is dealing drugs, you can be sure they WILL NOT start watching his house. The police cannot put a surveilance team on someone's house just because one neighbor wants them to. But back on topic, I don't think random drug testing is a good idea and it is only now deemed constitutional if "special needs" can be justified such as, an increase in drug use or known drug use and drug dealing among a certain group, usually athletes. Drug testing is considered a type of search and you need to have a reasonable suspicion to conduct a search. Why waste resources on random testing when you can focus on those you suspect? Like it or not, students are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures and that includes drug testing. Anyway, shouldn't schools focus more on educating than policing? How many responsibilities should schools have? Don't they have enough already?

Roxane N. said...

I really feel like the United
States has ineffective drug policies. The war on drugs is coming under great scrutiny, especially with what is occurring in Mexico. If you compare our statistics to a lot of European countries that are way more tolerant, we have much higher levels of drug use.

I feel like subjecting students to random drug tests is a violation of their rights. I think if they so chose, it is their right to do drugs without being singled out, stigmatized and subjected to criminal liability. I don't think that's the way to help them.

I THINK IT IS THE SCHOOL'S RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE EFFECTIVE PREVENTION AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS. Sex, drugs, alcohol, birth control, I think these programs should go over it all extensively. Especially in urban areas, where teen pregnancy, drug abuse, etc. occurs at higher levels. It's like, let's talk about it! Not have them pee in a cup... how is that effective?

Many of them assume they will be dead or in jail by the time they're 25 anyway. I don't think that a threat of random drug testing will reduce the statistics that much anyway.

Desiree Antas said...

Laura,where I live there are posters everywhere called the "tipline" and all the rats in the town call the narcotic officers and tell them what they know. The officers use this information and will start looking out for the suspects. Whether it be pulling a person over in a car or stop them while they are walking. Is this fair? No,but the cops will make up some reason why they stopped that person. Who is going to win that case? It is the police officer's word against a drug dealer. As for school and drugs I stated what I think no need to repeat myself.

Jessica S said...

I am in complete agreement with Roxanne.
Again, it's a matter of principle.
You don't just decide to make a student provide a urine specimen. Again, if you have lots of supporting evidence that he may be abusing drugs, that isn't random. And Laura, I agree with you. If I tell the police that my neighbor is doing drugs, they're not going to put surveillance on his house. Why? because it's a violation of his rights. Children have a right to be trusted if they are reasonably responsible.
And yes, if a kid is dealing drugs, then his rights no longer exist. But I'm sorry, you must have reasonable cause to make a child urinate in a cup. Are you going to drug test your child every week, just to make sure?
I understand it's about caring about these kids, but in caring about them we should make sure that we are protecting their rights and making certain that they grow to trust authority and not fear or resent it. Having a staff and parents that are educated about drug abuse and who are able to recognize the signs of drug abuse is key in our efforts as school personell to protect our students. Again, if you have reasonable evidence that a kid might be abusing, this is not random testing, and a drug test would certainly be in order.