ACLU Announces Legal Challenge to First-Ever Random Drug Testing Policy for Public School Educators

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
September 14, 2007 12:00 am

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Blanket Drug Testing Policy Is Unconstitutional, Ineffective and Short-Sighted, Says ACLU

HONOLULU — The American Civil Liberties Union is convening a series of local events to announce its legal challenge to a state policy that will randomly drug test many public school employees, including teachers, librarians and many administrative workers. Saying that the drug testing program violates adults’ constitutional right to privacy, is ineffective and costly, the ACLU is currently seeking Hawaii public school employees to participate in a lawsuit against the State that will soon be filed in federal court.

“The Constitution does not allow us to put a price tag on our right to privacy, and we look forward to representing Hawaii educators who are willing to stand up for their constitutional rights, ” said Lois Perrin, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaii. “Our education system is failing students by resorting to dragnet searches that do little to protect anyone while violating the rights of everyone.”

During the 2006-07 school year, as the State of Hawaii and Bargaining Unit 5 of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) were in contentious contract negotiations, the State demanded that HSTA institute a random drug testing policy for many public education employees in exchange for a wage increase. Following a brief but heated deliberation, the deal was approved by a slight majority. This policy is the first of its kind in the United States.

“Hawaii now has the dubious distinction of being the first state ever to subject its teachers to a blanket policy of random drug testing,” said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, a division of the national ACLU. Boyd is an expert on the constitutional implications of random drug testing policies and has litigated a number of cases nationwide against such policies, including a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the random drug testing of students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. “I look forward to joining the ACLU of Hawaii and local teachers who agree that this policy conveys the wrong civics lesson to our students and to the nation.”

Boyd and Perrin will begin touring the state on September 27, along with another national ACLU attorney, Carlie Ware, to meet with Bargaining Unit 5 public education employees (or individuals subject to the terms of its collective bargaining agreement) as possible plaintiffs in the lawsuit.. Interested persons can call toll free (888) 9-JoinUs, email or visit

Boyd will make a formal presentation, “What Kind of Lessons Are Our Schools Teaching?” at the following locations. RSVPs can be made by calling (808)522-5906. Event details are also available at: The event schedule is as follows:

Maui: Thurs. 9/27, 5:30PM to 7:00PM at Maui Community College, Library Conference Room, bottom floor

Hilo: Friday 9/28, 5:30PM to 7:00PM at UH Hilo, Campus Center 301

Kona: Saturday 9/29, 5:30PM to 7:00PM at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, Islander Room

Kauai: Monday 10/1, 5:30PM to 7:00PM at Kauai Community College, Cafeteria

Oahu: Tuesday 10/2, 5:30PM to 7:00PM at the UH Manoa Main Art Auditorium, ground floor

Oahu: Wednesday 10/3, 5:30PM to 7:00PM at UH West Oahu, (room TBA)

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