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Mon, 9 May 1994
By Jim Doyle San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Court of Appeals struck down as
unconstitutional a mandatory drug-screening program in rural Oregon
for elementary and'high school athletes.
It is the latest court ruling on the legality of requiring student
athletes to submit to "random" drug tests, which are conducted
without suspicion that those tested use drugs.
A three-judge panel held unanimously on Thursday that the Veronica
School District's testing program violated students' rights to be
free from "unreasonable searches" under both the state and federal
Federal and state courts have issued conflicting rulings on drug
tests for student athletes.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided - without explanation - not
to review a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that the University of
Colorado's drug testing program is unconstitutional.
But in November, the Califorrnia Supreme Court upheld the National
Collegiate Athletic Association's mandatory drug testing of athletes
who play in post-season championship games. The NCAA's interest in
drug-free competition outweighs students' privacy rights, the court
In 1988, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the mandatory
drug testing of high school athletes in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.
Because of the spotty rulings, legal scholars expect the U.S. Supreme
Court to take up the issue of student drug testing.
The Oregon case arose in 1989 when the Veronica School District
instituted a policy that all boys and girls who take part in
interscholastic athletics must submit urine samples for drug testing.
Veronica is a small logging town about one hour from Portland.
School officials said they began the program to combat an increase in
student drug use, a decline of student discipline and evidence that a
student suffered a sports injury because of his use of marijuana.
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