X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Drug testing of high school students, having survived federal constitutional scrutiny, is now under the harsh glare of the New Jersey Constitution’s enhanced right to privacy. Three students, in Joye v. Hunterdon Central Regional High School, A-27-02, seek to void a school policy of random drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities or who park on campus. Their lawyer, John Salyer, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, argued to the state supreme court Feb. 19 that under Art. I, � 7, of the state constitution, there is a presumption against random testing and that school officials bear the burden of justifying it. Though virtually identical in language to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, the state clause has been broadly construed to afford wider privacy protections. Somerset County Assignment Judge Robert Guterl so applied it in striking down the Hunterdon policy. A divided appellate division disagreed. The majority relied on last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Oklahoma case, Bd. of Ed. of Independent School District No. 92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822. Citing evidence of widespread drug use among students nationwide, the Court said the need to deter drug use trumped a student’s limited expectation of privacy. At last week’s arguments, Justice James Coleman Jr. noted that studies have shown there is a “major problem out there” and asked whether teachers and administrators should ignore the problem. Salyer answered, “There’s more than one interest that needs to be balanced. There is the individual’s right against having his privacy intruded upon.” Salyer also said the policy is misguided because it targets students least likely to use drugs. Participating in extracurricular activities is one of the best ways to avoid drug use, he said. A constitutionally acceptable alternative would be to order testing if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use, he said. Hunterdon Central’s lawyer, Kevin Kovacs, contended that the program is a deterrent to drug use and that students know about it beforehand. At least 80 percent of the school’s 2,500 students are subject to the random tests. Any invasion to privacy is minimal, he added, saying school officials went out of their way to keep the tests as confidential as possible. Students who test positive may not participate in extracurricular activities until they complete a drug awareness program, but there is no other punishment and no permanent record is kept. “It’s a deterrent that works,” said Kovacs, a partner at Bedminster’s Purcell, Ries, Shannon, Mulcahy & O’Neill. “It gives students a reason to say no.” Justice Barry Albin asked whether drug testing should be extended into the workplace. No, said Kovacs. “The difference here is that we’re dealing with kids, 15-year-old kids.” “Who are in a formative stage and who can still be saved,” added Justice James Zazzali. “On balance, it’s a very minimal intrusion,” said Kovacs. ” I don’t think this is a slippery slope.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.