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Requiring students at a public college to submit to mandatory drug screening is an invasion of privacy, the American Civil Liberties Union asserted in a class action filed on Sept. 14 of behalf of six students at Linn State Technical College in Missouri. The suit, filed in U.S District Court for the Western District of Missouri, asked the court to declare Linn State’s drug testing policy unconstitutional and to require the school to refund the $50 fee students were charged for the testing. Just hours after the suit was filed, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey issued a temporary restraining order to stop the testing of student urine samples that had already been collected. Kent Brown, a lawyer representing the college, did not respond to requests for comment. Linn State, located in Jefferson City Mo., was the first public college in the United States to require students to submit to drug testing as a condition of enrollment, according to the complaint. “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, a staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project. “The college has demonstrated no legitimate need to drug test its students that outweighs their constitutionally protected privacy rights.” The two-year college implemented the drug screening policy for all new students enrolling for the fall term and for students returning after taking one or more semesters off. Any student who refuses must withdraw from the college, and any student testing positive for drugs has 45 days to take a new test on pain of expulsion. The college adopted the testing to “prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning,” the college said in a document explaining the policy. That same document said that administrators don’t believe the college has an unusually large drug problem. According to the ACLU, college officials told the organization that drug testing was a safety measure to protect students using heavy machinery. None of the six plaintiffs use heavy machinery, the ACLU said. The suit names the president of the college and seven regents as defendants. The ACLU filed the suit with the assistance of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. Karen Sloan can be contacted at [email protected].

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