Post details: WA: Random drug testing of student athletes violates state constitution

03/13/08

Permalink 04:17:55 pm, by fourth, 496 words, 2055 views   English (US)
Categories: General

WA: Random drug testing of student athletes violates state constitution

The Washington Supreme Court held Thursday that random drug testing of student athletes violates the state constitution's privacy provision, rejecting the state's "special needs" argument and rejecting Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, under which the school district was held to have modeled its policy. York v. Wahkiakum Sch. Dist. No. 200, 163 Wn. 2d 297 (2008):

II. Suspicionless, Random Drug Testing Disturbs a Student Athlete's Private Affairs.

When inquiring about private affairs, we look to "'those privacy interests which citizens of this state have held, and should be entitled to hold, safe from governmental trespass absent a warrant.'" State v. Young, 123 Wn.2d 173, 181, 867 P.2d 593 (1994) (quoting State v. Myrick, 102 Wn.2d 506, 511, 688 P.2d 151 (1984)). This is an objective analysis.

The private affair we are concerned with today is the State's interference in a student athlete's bodily functions. Specifically, does it intrude upon a privacy interest to require a student athlete to go into a bathroom stall and provide a urine sample, even against that student's protest? Federal courts and our court both agree the answer is an unqualified yes, such action intrudes into one's reasonable expectation of privacy. Robinson v. City of Seattle, 102 Wn. App. 795, 813 n.50, 10 P.3d 452 (2000) (citing Skinner v. Ry. Labor Executives' Ass'n, 489 U.S. 602, 617, 109 S. Ct. 1402, 103 L. Ed. 2d 639 (1989); In re Juveniles A, B, C, D, E, 121 Wn.2d 80, 90, 847 P.2d 455 (1993); State v. Olivas, 122 Wn.2d 73, 83, 856 P.2d 1076 (1993); State v. Meacham, 93 Wn.2d 735, 738, 612 P.2d 795 (1980); State v. Curran, 116 Wn.2d 174, 184, 804 P.2d 558 (1991)). Indeed, we offer heightened protection for bodily functions compared to the federal courts. Robinson, 102 Wn. App. 795.

But the school district claims student athletes have a lower expectation of privacy. Certainly, students who choose to play sports are subjected to more regulation. For example, RCW 28A.600.200 provides, "Each school district board of directors is hereby granted and shall exercise the authority to control, supervise and regulate the conduct of interschool athletic activities." And certainly there is generally less privacy in locker rooms than in other parts of a school. But the district does not link regulations and the communal atmosphere of locker rooms with a student's lowered expectation of privacy in terms of being subjected to suspicionless, random drug testing. We do not see how what happens in the locker room or on the field affects a student's privacy in the context of compelling him or her to provide a urine sample. A student athlete has a genuine and fundamental privacy interest in controlling his or her own bodily functions. The urinalysis test is by itself relatively unobtrusive. Nevertheless, a student is still required to provide his or her bodily fluids. Even if done in an enclosed stall, this is a significant intrusion on a student's fundamental right of privacy. See Robinson, 102 Wn. App. at 822.

This analysis should in no way contradict what we have previously said about students' privacy interests. Generally we have recognized students have a lower expectation of privacy because of the nature of the school environment. ...

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer article is here.

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