Michigan Court Asked to Strike Down High School's Urine Testing Policy

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
June 5, 2001 12:00 am

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ACLU of Michigan
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Tuesday, June 5, 2001

FLINT, MI–The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today asked a Circuit Court to rule Grand Blanc High School’s drug testing policy a violation of the state Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“Grand Blanc High School has created a ‘drug exception’ to the Constitution,” said Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “The Michigan Constitution requires that there be reasonable suspicion before students are drug tested. The school should consider the lesson it is teaching students when it treats them as if they have no rights at all.

Under the program, students who want to play sports must provide a urine sample on demand for drug testing. In violation of students’ privacy rights, school officials require athletes to provide urine samples even though there is no reason to believe that they have been using drugs.

Between 1998 and 2000, 599 students were randomly tested for drugs under Grand Blanc’s policy. Only two tested positive. Grand Blanc is the only high school in the state to have such a policy.

“Grand Blanc High School should stop treating its students like criminals,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Gregory Gibbs. “The school cannot violate student athletes’ privacy rights by making them submit to drug testing unless there is reason to suspect that they are breaking the law.”

The lawsuit was filed last spring on behalf of Micah White, a student who was denied an opportunity to join the Grand Blanc wrestling team in 1999 because he and his parents refused to sign a drug testing authorization form.

At the time, Mr. White was a member of the National Honor Society, a National Merit Commended Student and a National Achievement Finalist. He had never been suspended, expelled or disciplined at high school due to behavior problems or for other reasons. White now attends Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

The Michigan Supreme Court has held that the Michigan Constitution provides greater protection than the federal constitution in this area. Several states courts, including courts in Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have held that drug testing of high school students is a violation of their respective state constitutions.

Judge Geoffrey Neithercut, who is assigned to hear the Grand Blanc High School case, has not yet set a hearing date for the ACLU’s motion.

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