ACLU Says Proposed Student Drug Testing Policy Puts Students At Risk

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
July 12, 2001 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Alabama
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Thursday, July 12, 2001

MONTGOMERY, AL–The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama has serious concerns about a proposed drug testing policy at the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science. The policy would require that all students provide samples of their hair for drug testing.

Experts, including the federal government, have rejected hair testing as unreliable. The hair testing method cannot distinguish between external contaminants in the air and drugs actually ingested by the person being tested.

After recruiting Alabama’s best and brightest students, the school will be subjecting all of them to a policy that not only tramples over their constitutional rights, but also jeopardizes their academic careers. These hair tests will be used by the school to make important decisions about students and their academic futures – decisions that may affect the students for the rest of their lives. The Alabama School of Mathematics and Science has started down a dangerous path, and it is putting the reputations of itself and its students on the line.

By requiring that all students submit to drug testing, the school’s proposed policy ignores constitutional principles and recent court decisions. This past March, a federal court in Texas struck down a similarly broad student drug testing policy. The Texas school district’s mandatory drug testing policy would have been the first of its kind in the nation to apply to every student, and the federal court found the policy unconstitutional.

Broad suspicionless drug testing of students is not an effective way to deal with drug and alcohol abuse among teens. The ACLU of Alabama urges the school board, administrators, parents, and students to develop a responsible and effective drug education policy.

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