"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Suspicionless Drug Testing and the Surveillance Society Come to Hillsborough High

Through ED grants, the Bush Administration has passed out free tax money in the hundreds of millions of dollars to school systems (click map to enlarge) to put in place drug testing programs that trample the privacy rights of students who are presumed guilty of drug abuse until proven innocent by random testing. This intensification of the Surveillance Society based on intimidation and fear is not only contrary of our history of individual rights, but it teaches acceptance of these intrusions without ever having a single lesson on them in the classroom.

Such policies are based on interpretations of Veronica v. Acton (1995), which opened the door to susipicionless drug testing of students. Writing for the three dissenters on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor
observed that mass suspicionless searches of groups had been found unconstitutional throughout most of the court's history, except in cases where the alternative—searching only those under suspicion—was ineffectual. She concluded that the school's policy was too broad and too imprecise to be constitutional under the Fourth Amendment.
Will parents organize in Hillsborough to protect the privacy rights of their children? Will teachers make this intrusion a subject of discussion in U. S. Government class? Will a single student call the ACLU to inquire about filing a lawsuit? Or none of the above?

From the Star-Ledger:
by Seung Min Kim/The Star-Ledger
Monday February 25, 2008, 11:20 PM

Hillsborough High School students who play sports, join after-school clubs or want parking permits will now be subject to random drug testing to keep those privileges.

Throwing out the old policy that only tested students if officials suspected drug use, the Hillsborough Township Board of Education voted 5-3 tonight for a random drug testing policy at the high school to go into effect this fall.

Under the policy, students who participate in extracurricular activities or apply for a parking permit would be entered into a computerized pool that would randomly select names for testing during the year.

Students who test positive would be required to meet with a counselor and would face suspension from their extracurricular activities.

"We need to put some obstacles in place," said board member Wolfgang Schneider, who voted for the policy. "We have some in place already, but we need more because obviously kids have found a way to get around it."

About 70 percent of the 2,500 students at Hillsborough High School would qualify for testing. The tests use either urine or saliva to detect drugs or alcohol in the system.

Testing would cost about $9,000 a year, officials have said. To ease the financial burden, board members have said the district may apply for a portion of an estimated $12.5 million in federal funds to help offset the cost.

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