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Thursday, April 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

State High Court Rejects Drug Tests For Athletes

OLYMPIA, Wash. (CN) - Random drug-testing of high-school athletes is unconstitutional and invades students' privacy, the Washington Supreme Court concluded in its unanimous decision to bar the Wahkiakum School District from forcing students to pass random drug tests if they want to participate in extracurricular sports.

The district implemented the policy to try to cut down on the rampant drug and alcohol use among students in a district where 50 percent of student athletes admitted in 2000 to using drugs, alcohol or both. Athletes who tested positive during the random drug tests would not get suspended from school or turned over to police, but would be suspended from school athletics.

A group of parents sued the district, claiming the policy violated their children's right to privacy. The state constitution provides that, "No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law."

The superior court sided with the district, but the high court reversed, saying the "warrantless random and suspicionless" drug tests violate the state constitution and put individual rights on a slippery slope.

"If we were to allow random drug testing here, what prevents school districts from either later drug testing students participating in any curricular activities, as federal courts now allow, or testing the entire student body?"

Justice Sanders concluded by saying the court requires a warrant "except for rare occasions, which we jealously and narrowly guard."

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