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    Random drug tests for college students

    Date: 07.23.12 | by Judge Tom.

    Linn State Technical College in Minnesota trains students for careers in heavy-equipment operation, or involving high-voltage electricity and dangerous, caustic chemicals. Obviously, while on the job, the employee must be clear-headed and free from mind-altering substances. So, the question is, should students studying for a career in these occupations be subjected to random drug testing while attending Linn State?

    The school decided in 2011 that it was their duty to implement a policy of testing for all students even though they were adults and not middle or high school students. We’ve written about the validity of random drug tests for tweens and teenagers. In fact, the issue has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court and been upheld on several occasions. See these stories about 12-year-old James Acton and high school student Lindsay Earls.


    Photo by Jack Spades (Flickr)

    Linn State’s policy called for a $50.00 fee for each of their 1,200 students. The tests would be used to determine the presence of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, opiates and other substances. The school explained that such testing would become a part of their life once working in these industries. There was no penalty for the first or even second positive test result. The school offered counseling and educational programs to help the student avoid drug use and dependence. Expulsion or suspension wasn’t an immediate consequence of a positive drug test.

    The policy was immediately challenged in court and a temporary stay was entered by a federal judge. A hearing was scheduled and the court ruled in a written opinion that granted the students an injunction against the policy. The judge found the policy to be overbroad since some students at Linn State were not involved in hazardous working conditions or heavy equipment operations. The court noted that the school had “operated successfully and safely since the 1960s without drug or alcohol testing. No drug related injury has ever been identified at the College.”  Consequently, the need to drug test every student before a complete legal analysis was done didn’t exist. “Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if their urine is tested and the results given to Defendants before Plaintiffs’ constitutional claims are resolved,” wrote the court.

    The student’s request for the preliminary injunction was granted. That means the policy was not permitted to continue or be enforced until the legal issues were fully developed and litigated. We have no further information on this since the court’s ruling in November, 2011. Apparently the school decided to abandon the policy.



    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • jesse
      Fri, 12 Oct 2012 at 10:26

      I desperately need some advise. So i am a cosmo student in the state of washington. Last friday, october 5,2012, the owner who is also an instructor called me to his office and proceeded to tell me a student came to him saying i was on drugs and that i had to go get an observed drug test in order to return to school. So i did and passed. Well then he said it is not his field on how to read the test, mind u i went and a 12 panel test and it said right on the front page tested negative for all substances. So he proceeded to tell me he picked out a drug test facility and i had an hour to go to them and get another observed drug test and bring back the results. So once again i went and took a test and brought him back what they gave me that said right on it once again negative for any drugs. And this time said i had to go back and pay more money to have it sent to a lab for a more thorough analysis. Which the first one also went to a lab. I am a single mom of four and am within 3 months of graduating and never gave a reason for him to even listen to whoever made this accusation. And now have missed more than a week of school and get charged for every day missed. What are my rights??? I have given him 2 tests now. Observed both times and am still not allowed back even tho i am clean. I DONT EVEN DRINK! Please please help me any information will help. I am so emotionally drained and stressed. Thankyou
      Dear Jesse: We’re sorry to hear about your situation. First, check out your Student Handbook, if there is one, or any terms and conditions of enrollment when you first became a student. The rules and policies regarding drug use and drug testing may be outlined for you to review and talk to the owner about. Also, you could try asking for a meeting with the owner and any other administrators who run the school to discuss the situation and your concerns about not being able to attend school when you apparently passed the tests. As a last resort, you could try contacting an attorney in your area who handles civil cases like yours. Many attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice.)

    • AntiDrug
      Wed, 05 Dec 2012 at 05:43

      A website for college students that are against drugs.
      Dear AntiDrug: Thank you for sharing your forum with our readers!

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