In 1997, Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, New Jersey began random drug testing of student athletes, a type of policy that the U.S.
Supreme Court had upheld as constitutional in the 1995 Vernonia School District case.
In February 2000, Hunterdon expanded its testing policy to include students who were involved in any extracurricular activity or who held a campus parking permit. On behalf of several students, the ACLU filed suit in state court to block the new policy.
In a separate case, decided in June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar drug testing policy in the Tecumseh, Oklahoma Independent School District.
Even after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Oklahoma case, the Hunterdon case proceeded through New Jersey courts. The ACLU’s lawyers argued that the New Jersey Constitution provided students with more protection than the U.S. Constitution.
An appellate court disagreed, and upheld the Hunterdon policy in an August 2002 decision. The Hunterdon case was appealed, and argued before the New Jersey State Supreme Court in February 2003. A decision is pending.
Hunterdon is one of about a dozen districts in New Jersey to mandate such tests. Unlike most schools that perform drug tests, however, Hunterdon uses an oral swab to test saliva.
With the help of teacher Will Richardson, Principal Lisa Brady, and moderator John Anastasio, POV invited six Hunterdon juniors and seniors — Jackie McMahon, Kate Murphy, Matthew Harcarik, Patrick Meyer, Stephanie Leon, and Ryan Cahalan — to watch “Larry v. Lockney” and to share their views on drug testing.