The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (Bill of Rights)
From a distance I have been watching the random drug testing discussion in Hillsborough these past few weeks. It was heartening to see the Courier News “Our Opinion” column address the very concerns I had years ago when I joined Mike Joye in filing a lawsuit against Hunterdon Central ("Is the medicine worse than the ailment?", Courier News, January 8, 2008, pp. A-8, or http://www.c-n.com/, click on “Our Opinion” under the 'Opinion' category). When introduced at Central, I was on the Hunterdon Central Random Drug Testing Task Force and worked intimately with the ACLU challenge. They were on my speed dial for a few years. I know from whence I speak here. I know how many students were tested based on suspicion the year before random drug testing was introduced, fewer than 2% of the population, probably under
1 and 1/2%. Over several years, we all traveled together to the state Supreme Court. We the parents lost by one vote.
Random drug testing of students weakens the strength of both the federal and state Constitutions. It weakens parental control to address an issue that may not be so desperate that it requires such a dramatic reaction by our schools. For instance, at one point Hunterdon Central, getting resistance from parents to come in and be present during the testing, opted to just eliminate the requirement that parents be present.
Hunterdon Central consistently argues random testing is a deterrent. It gives the students an out. Well I can argue that the traffic lights in Flemington keep out the pink elephants. You get my drift. How many pink elephants are there here in Flemington? What Central never produced was a shred of evidence independent of the drug company intervention we saw at Central or Central’s own claims to support this statement. Central offers the argument based on just, well, offering the argument. Let’s get some evidence independent of Central’s conjectures and independent of those drug companies and labs that stand to profit.
In 2003, the University of Michigan released the results of a survey of more than 600 middle schools and high schools. This INDEPENDENT survey indicated that there was NO STATISTICAL DIFFERENCE in drug use of students between schools that tested and those that did not.
This is the type of data that should be combed through before our citizens have to forsake any more rights. In the absence of such independent data, although I requested it as a task force member, I concluded that the big winner here is DATIA, The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry. Google it. Parents have every right to insist on independent data to substantiate the claim that random drug testing is a deterrent. Be sure to know the source of that data. Weakening parental control and constitutional protections is a serious matter. The benefits need to outweigh the losses.
There is always the option of a voluntary testing progam that would respect everyone's rights.
See Joye vs Hunterdon Central at http://www.njsba.org/sb_notes/july2403/NewSite/NewFiles/drug.html