A school district was experiencing a dramatic increase in student drug use. In particular, many of the students involved in the school’s athletic programs were suspected of using controlled substances. The school district imposed a policy, applicable to all students participating in interscholastic athletics, subjecting them to random drug testing. The student and parents were required to sign a testing consent form before participating in an athletics program. The defendant was denied access to an athletics program as his parents refused consent.
Whether it is reasonable for a school district to require drug testing to participate in athletics programs?
Yes. Student-athletes have a reduced expectation of privacy and the government has a compelling interest in protecting the students from the associated dangers.
The Court has previously dispensed with the government’s requirement of obtaining a warrant supported by probable cause in the past when a “special need” to conduct the search exists. The Court has found a “special need” in relation to public schools prior to this case, as well. See New Jersey v. T.L.O.. In this case, the Court found that “[L]egitimate privacy expectations are even less with regard to student athletes.” They are subjected to a variety of communal observations and “they voluntarily subject themselves to a degree of regulation” by joining the team. The Court balanced the reduced expectation of privacy the student-athletes receive in this environment with the government’s compelling interest of protecting “school athletes, where the risk of immediate physical harm to the drug user or those with whom he is playing his sport is particularly high.” In doing so, it found the school district’s requirements reasonable.
515 U.S. 646, 115 S. Ct. 2386 (1995)