Benjamin Brown v. Shasta Union High School District (Student Drug Testing)
Join the math team, take a drug test. That was the rule at the Shasta Union High School District, which enacted a policy requiring students to submit to random drug testing in order to participate in any school-sponsored activities, including choir, the science bowl, and the mock trial team. Mandatory suspicionless school drug testing, an approach promoted with fervor by the Bush Administration, violates students' right to privacy.
In December 2008, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, in cooperation with the national law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, filed a lawsuit against SUHSD challenging the policy. On May 6, 2009, the California Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction halting the district's drug testing program.
Under the district's policy, which was partly financed by a federal program that funded suspicionless testing but not drug-prevention efforts, students who did not agree to provide a urine sample for testing were barred from participating. One plaintiff was targeted repeatedly by a school administrator until he complied. He tested negative. Another plaintiff, senior Brittany Dalton, objected to being tested and was not allowed to play the flute in a parade.
The lawsuit argues that the suspicionless drug testing of students involved in these types of activities violates the California Constitution.
The preliminary injunction will remain in place until the case is finally resolved or until further order of the court. The injunction applies to the entire Shasta Union High School District.
Because of the injunction, Brittany Dalton was able to play in a statewide flute ensemble competition in May. She won a gold medal.
The school district filed an appeal. On Sep. 2, 2010, the California Court of Appeal upheld the superior court's decision to issue a preliminary injunction.
On Sep. 6, 2011 the ACLU Foundation of Northern California announced that it reached a settlement with the Shasta Union High School District. Under that agreement, the District agreed to abandon the unconstitutional policy.