Teachers Join Us: Protect Your Privacy

Document Date: September 17, 2007
Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii

> Read the ACLU’s July 15, 2008 Letter to Hawaii Attorney General (PDF)
> Read Gov. Lingle’s July 18, 2008 Complaint to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (PDF)
> Read HSTA’s July 17, 2008 Letter to the Hawaii State BOE Stating that Random Teacher Drug Testing is Unconstitutional (PDF)
> Read the 2007- 09 Collective Bargaining Agreement between HSTA and the Hawaii State BOE (PDF)


Robin Lyn Fancy
School Librarian
See Robin speak out >

Debbie Shirai
Science Teacher
See Debbie speak out >

Tony Turbeville
Math Teacher
See Tony speak out >


> Legal and Labor Experts Demand Governor Retract Unfounded Threat to Withhold Teachers’ Pay Raise Over Demise of Random Drug Testing Program
> Read the Letter
> ACLU Applauds Board of Education’s Rejection of Random Teacher Drug Testing and Condemns Governor’s Threat to Withhold Wages
> Governor Refuses to Retract Teacher Drug Testing Policy, ACLU Announces Lawsuit
> Hawaii A.G. Confirms that Your Employer Cannot Retaliate Against You!
> Read the ACLU’s Op-Ed in the Honolulu Advertiser

online form >>
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TeachersJoinUs@ACLU.orgDownload a print-ready plaintiff outreach flyer >>

Drug testing individuals without cause is ineffective, expensive and, often times, illegal. Unsubstantiated screening of bodily fluid is a costly affront to our constitutional right to privacy. Shown to have no bearing on public safety, the price is indefensible – both in dollars and cents as well as commonsense:

  • Government drug testing of individuals without cause is an affront to the Fourth Amendment.
  • Random drug testing is simply ineffective.
  • Drug testing educators sends the wrong message to our youth.
  • Subjecting educators to invasive, embarrassing and unsubstantiated drug tests will erode student respect.

Yet, Hawaii is moving forward with a plan to randomly drug test many of its school employees, including teachers, librarians and counselors. In addition to making a mockery of the fundamental rights taught in Hawaii’s classrooms, this scheme will sap scarce resources from already depleted school coffers while doing nothing to advance the safety of Hawaii’s students.

Fortunately, Hawaii’s educators are challenging this affront to their fundamental rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Hawaii are here to help. If you are a Bargaining Unit 5 public education employee or subject to the terms of its collective bargaining agreement and would like to join a legal challenge against the unsubstantiated drug testing of you and your colleagues, please take a moment to fill out this online form, or call toll free (888) 9-JoinUs or email us at:

We ask so much of our educators. Asking them to give up their fundamental right to privacy goes too far.


Will 13,000 People Have to Pay the Price for Four Bad Apples?

During Hawaii’s 2006-07 school year, four members of Hawaii’s primary group of public education employees, known as Bargaining Unit 5, were arrested for drug-related offenses. While no evidence has been presented that any of these incidents impacted students in any way, some of Hawaii’s elected officials nonetheless seized upon the opportunity to leverage our fears for political gain by calling for the random drug testing of educators.

Bargaining Unit 5 was at that time deep in contentious contract negotiations. Unable to secure an adequate wage increase, educators now found themselves faced with a deeply troubling offer: accept random drug testing in exchange for a living wage. Following a brief but heated deliberation, the deal was approved by a slight majority.

The Constitution does not, however, allow us to put a price tag on our right to privacy and so this unconstitutional politicization of public education will soon be challenged in court.

An Affront to the Fourth Amendment:

The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects Americans from unreasonable searches, and Hawaii’s state constitution offers an even stronger defense of the right to privacy in certain circumstances. Invasive, embarrassing and unprovoked examination of bodily fluid is a glaring violation of the fundamental right to personal privacy. In this age of government overreach, the wisdom of the founding fathers bears repeating: Those willing to sacrifice liberty for illusory security deserve neither and will lose both.

Read the ACLU’s compreshensive report on workplace drug testing >>

An F for Effectiveness:

In addition to clear constitutional concerns, random drug testing simply does not work. As the National Academy of Sciences concluded following a thorough analysis of the evidence, “Despite beliefs to the contrary, the preventive effects of drug-testing programs have never been adequately demonstrated.”

In reality, drug testing is almost solely a test for marijuana use. While traces of marijuana persist in people’s urine for weeks at a time, harder drugs, like crystal methamphetamine or “Ice,” are undetectable within days of use. Testing is, therefore, least likely to uncover the drug use most likely to prove problematic.

An Offensive Lesson:

Random drug testing conveys an abhorrent civics lesson to Hawaii’s youth. Students should be taught to cherish and uphold our constitutional rights, including the fundamental right of personal privacy. As obvious role models entrusted with instructing students on the proper role of government and the importance of democracy, educators should not be forced to sign-off on government overreach in return for an adequate paycheck. Rather than help to maintain an effective classroom environment, drug testing will demoralize educators and cause them to lose the respect of their students.

Educators Deserve Respect and Students Deserve the Best:

Teachers should be judged by their performance in the classroom, not the bathroom. School administrators already have the ability to discipline and even dismiss problematic employees for legitimate reasons. Imposing random drug tests could very well result in the loss of quality educators who are unwilling to abandon their principles and relinquish their constitutional rights.