In June of 2002, the Supreme Court set new precedent in a case involving the Tecumseh School District in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. The Court’s decision in that case said that drug testing can be legally required of any student involved in any school-sponsored extracurricular activity. Previously, the court had ruled that only athletes could be tested.
Lockney has changed its policy to reflect this ruling and is now testing all students involved in extracurricular activities. In small districts like Lockney, the number of such students is usually very large. However, the legal settlement to which Larry Tannahill and the school district agreed exempts Larry’s two sons from being tested no matter what the district policy says.
Some schools are rewriting their own drug testing policies in light of the Supreme Court decision in the Oklahoma case—that is, expanding the scope of testing. Other districts that never had testing policies because of the ambiguity of the previous rulings by the Court are now starting to implement testing for the first time.
Some legal analysts believe that the Supreme Court’s language in the Oklahoma case leaves the door open for approving the kind of universal testing of all students that Lockney originally proposed, should such a policy be challenged and find its way to the court at a future date.
In May of 2003, researchers at the University of Michigan released a study concluding that drug testing of students in schools does not deter drug use, based on a large, multi-year national sample of the nation’s high schools and middle schools. The research challenges the premise that has been central to the rationale for schools adopting a drug testing policy. Find out more about the study at: monitoringthefuture.org.
Graham Boyd and his team at the ACLU Drug Policy unit continue to work against suspicionless drug testing in the nation’s schools. Due to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Tecumseh case, there is not much active litigation going on currently. The ACLU Drug Policy group has partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance and will be releasing a brochure for school administrators later this year. Find out more about their efforts at drugtestingfails.org and aclu.org/drugpolicy.