The supreme court in Washington state has ruled that random drug testing of student-athletes violates the state constitution, finding that each student has “a genuine and fundamental privacy interest in controlling his or her own bodily functions.”
The court ruled unanimously March 13 in favor of some parents and students in Cathlamet who were fighting the Wahkiakum school district’s policy of random urine tests of middle school and high school student-athletes.
The nine-member court was split on whether the plurality opinion was too sweeping. There were three separate concurrences, and at least one justice said random suspicionless drug testing would be acceptable under “carefully defined circumstances.”
The Washington Supreme Court said the state’s constitution offered more protection from “special needs” searches in the school context than the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in two cases that suspicionless drug testing of students participating in athletics and certain other extracurricular activities does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches.
A version of this article appeared in the March 19, 2008 edition of Education Week