Debate Over Teacher Drug Tests Spreads to West Virginia

A judge rules that the random screenings are unconstitutional.


A policy that would have made drug testing of teachers and other school employees in a school district in West Virginia commonplace has been struck down by a federal judge, the Associated Press reports. The judge said that requiring a teacher to submit to a random drug test amounts to an unconstitutional search. The ruling applies only to the case in Kanawha County, W.Va. But it could help teachers in Hawaii who are fighting a similar policy.

Last week, U.S. News carried a report about an agreement that went sour between the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state's governor, Linda Lingle. In exchange for pay raises, the teachers union consented to random drug tests. But now the teachers want out, saying the testing would violate their privacy rights. Lingle, who threatened to withhold the raises, released the money after the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii intervened on behalf of teachers.

Readers who commented on the story in last week's post said that agreeing to the tests for more money was a foolish move on the part of the teachers union. Others said that teachers should not object to the testing if they have nothing to hide. Hawaii education authorities told the AP that they had not reviewed the ruling in West Virginia. In rejecting the safety concerns that led school officials in West Virginia to adopt the drug testing policy, the judge in that case said, "Total security for us and our children is only possible—if unlikely—in a totalitarian state."

The judge added, "Who wants to live in a society when a government will stop at nothing to prevent bumps and bruises?"

Should that reasoning extend to schools that require teachers to pass a drug test in the name of ensuring the safety of children? Give us your take.

West Virginia