September 14, 2011

ACLU Lawsuit Charges that Mandatory Drug Testing Policy at Missouri College is Unconstitutional

Linn State Technical College Forcing Students to Submit to Tests Without Any Suspicion of Wrongdoing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE?

September 14, 2011

Deborah Read, (314) 652-3114 ext. 22; debbie@aclu-mo.org

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri today filed a federal class action lawsuit charging Linn State Technical College with violating the constitutional rights of its students by forcing them to submit to mandatory drug tests as a condition of their enrollment.

A two-year, publicly funded college, Linn State is the first public college in the country to require students, all of whom are at least 18 years old, to submit to mandatory drug testing. The drug testing policy has been instituted despite there being no documented problems with drugs in the college’s 50-year history and no reason to suspect that the students being tested have used illegal drugs.

“It is unconstitutional to force students to submit to a drug test when there is zero indication of any kind of criminal activity,” said Jason Williamson, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project. “The college has demonstrated no legitimate need to drug test its students that outweigh their constitutionally protected privacy rights. This is an unprecedented policy and nothing like it has ever been sanctioned by the courts.”

Adopted earlier this month, the policy requires all first-year degree- or certificate-seeking students, as well as those students returning to the college after a leave of a semester or more, to pay a $50 non-fundable fee and submit to testing by the collection and analysis of their urine. Students began to be pulled out of their classes the day after the policy was adopted so they could be tested, and a refusal to submit to the test will result in students being dismissed from the college.

Students whose tests come back positive will have 45 days to take a second test with a negative result in order to avoid being dismissed from the college. Students who fail the second drug test will be dismissed without being refunded for the costs of their classes if the dismissal occurs after the normal refund period.

According to the college’s own website, there are no greater issues of student drug use at Linn State than at any other college.

“This is an invasive policy that requires people to submit to tests that reveal private and intimate things like medical conditions or whether they are pregnant that people have a right to protect, said Anthony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. “A person’s privacy should not be invaded like this, especially when they have done nothing wrong and when there’s not even an allegation that they’ve done something wrong.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri with the assistance of the organization Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, the lawsuit names as defendants Donald M. Claycomb, president of Linn State Technical College, as well as the members of the college’s Board of Regents.

A copy of the lawsuit is available online at: www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/minter-et-al-v-claycomb-et-al-complaint

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