ACLU files lawsuit over Missouri college's mandatory drug test rule

The Kansas City StarSeptember 16, 2011 

Linn State Technical College’s first-in-the-country, mandatory student drug testing that could lead to no-refund dismissals has been challenged in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri this week filed a federal lawsuit accusing the two-year publicly funded college in Linn, Mo., of “violating the constitutional rights of its students by forcing them to submit to mandatory drug tests as a condition of their enrollment.”

On Thursday, a judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, where the lawsuit was filed, granted a temporary restraining order to stop the testing and analysis of any samples already collected and to block release of any results garnered from the testing.

Donald M. Claycomb, president of Linn State Technical College, and members of the board of regents are named as defendants. Officials at the college east of Jefferson City declined to comment and referred calls to their attorney Kent Brown, who was not available for comment.

The drug testing policy was adopted earlier this month and requires all students — first-year and those returning after at least a semester-long break — to pay a $50 non-refundable fee and submit to urine test. The college has 1,176 students.

According to the ACLU, students were pulled out of classes for testing the day after the policy was enacted. Those who refused the drug test were told they would be dismissed from the college.

A student who fails the test has a second chance to pass it. A second failure would result in dismissal, the ACLU statement said.

“It is unconstitutional to force students to submit to a drug test when there is zero indication of any kind of criminal activity,” Jason Williamson, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a statement.

“The college has demonstrated no legitimate need to drug-test its students that outweighs their constitutionally protected privacy rights. This is an unprecedented policy, and nothing like it has ever been sanctioned by the courts.”

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