ACLU of Virginia Sets Stage for Student Privacy Victory

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
March 10, 2006 12:00 am

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School Board Opts for Voluntary Drug Testing After Hearing Concerns of Parents and ACLU

WILLIAMSBURG, VA – In an unexpected turn of events this week, the Williamsburg-James City County School Board voted unanimously to implement a voluntary student drug testing program for students in grades 6-12, beginning with the 2006- 2007 school year. In so doing, the board rejected a proposal to institute a mandatory random drug testing program that was strongly opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and many parents.

“We are pleased the school board has decided not to impose a mandatory random drug testing program,” said Kent Willis, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia. “The voluntary policy allows families, not the government, to decide when drug testing is appropriate.”

The mandatory policy proposed by the school superintendent would have been the most expansive in the state, requiring all high school students involved in extracurricular activities or who use the school parking lot to be subjected to random drug testing.

Last month in a letter sent to the Williamsburg-James City County School Board, the ACLU urged them to reject the proposed mandatory drug testing policy because it violates the privacy rights of students and there is no research indicating that such programs are an effective deterrent to illegal drug use in public schools. The letter instead recommended that the school board adopt an “aggressive education, identification, and rehabilitation program” aimed at reducing drug use among students.

After months of fierce public debate, including a town hall meeting at which the ACLU spoke against mandatory drug testing, school board member Mary Ann Maimone surprised those attending Tuesday’s meeting when she offered to make participation in the drug testing program voluntary and open to students in both middle and high schools.

The Williamsburg-James City County School Board will take final action on the amended policy at its next meeting on April 4.

The ACLU’s letter to the school board is available online at:

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