BC: Citations Persico, Deborah A. Veronica School District v. Acton. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1999. Print.
FC: Hali Carter Christa Smaltz | Vernonia School District v. Acton | Drug Testing in Schools
1: Table of Contents | Background Information 2 Crucial Case Information 8 Supreme Court Case Information 15 Aftermath 19 Citations 24
2: Background Information | In 1991, when James Acton was a seventh grader at Washington Grade School he made the decision to tryout for the football team. Before tryouts, Acton had physical examination at the Vernonia Health Clinic which included a urine sample drug test.
3: At the first practice, the school handed each of the players drug test consent forms, which required them to participate in random drug testing throughout the year. If any of the players did not sign, they were not allowed to participate in the team.
4: The Vernonia School District had a Student Athlete Drug Policy. The reason for this policy was "to create a safe, drug free, environment for student athletes and assist them in getting help when needed."
5: The athletes would first be tested at the beginning of the season. Then once a week a student, supervised by two adults, would draw the names of 10 percent of the athletes for random testing.
6: The selected student would go into an empty locker room with an adult monitor. Each boy had to produce a urine sample at a urinal. The male monitor would stand fifteen feet away. Girls would perform the urine sample in a closed stall. | Drug Test:
7: James Acton brought home the consent form to his parents and discussed it with them. They refused to sign the form because they believed it violated James' constitutional right to privacy.
8: Crucial Case Information | First, the Actons contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a group known for handling cases involving civil rights. They agreed to file a lawsuit against the Vernonia School District for the Actons. Thomas M. Christ was assigned to the case.
9: Christ filed the complaint in the federal trial court, called the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.
10: The Complaint: The plaintiff asked the court to find the school district's drug testing policy unlawful. They asked the court to put a stop to this policy and allow James to participate in the school sports. It asked for "declaratory and injunctive relief." They argued that it violated James' rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
11: The District Trial | The federal judge, Malcolm F. Marsh was assigned the case. The defendants argued that the drug policy was simply a protective measure to ensure the safety of the students. The principal admitted that he had no reason to believe that James was using drugs even though the school policy stated that student's property could not be searched without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
12: District Court Ruling | On May 7, 1992, Judge Marsh ruled in favor of the Vernonia School , saying that the drug testing policy was reasonable.
13: The Appeal | The Actons appealed to the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. The judges were Stephen Reinhardt, Melivin Brunetti, and Ferdinand F. Fernandez. They disagreed with the trial court's finding and found that Vernonia School District's policy did not justify random testing.
14: The Vernonia School district then decided to appeal the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice at the time was William Rehnquist.
15: The Supreme Court | The case entered the Supreme Court on March 25, 1995. Timothy R. Volpert represented the Vernonia School District. Sandra Day O'Conner served as a justice on the Court at that time.
16: Decision | 3 Months later on June 26, 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in Vernonia School District's favor. They found the drug testing reasonable because the 4th amendment only protects against unreasonable search and seizure | Ruling: 6-3
17: The justices came to a consent that a school child's rights are different in school than outside. The agreed that in school, officials take the role of the children's parents - therefore the children to not retain all of their privacy rights. Because the urine sample was performed in full clothing, it did not violate privacy.
18: Dissenting Opinion | Justices O'Conner, Stevens, Souter didn't agree with the majority. O'Conner expressed that Vernonia's drug policy violated the fourth amendment because they had no reason to suspect Acton for doing drugs. She agreed that suspicion based searches were reasonable.
19: The Aftermath | The decision made in Vernonia School District v. Acton set the precedent for drug testing cases in the future. 1. Drug testing is allowed in public school as long as the school has a reason to suspect a drug problem, they don't have to point out specific people.
20: 2. In Louisiana public schools, student's private property can be subject to random searches. 3. Two years later in the case, Todd, et al. v. Rush County Schools, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that urine testing did not violate the Fourth Amendment because of the prior conclusion found in the Vernonia Case.
21: 4. The Supreme Court is allowed to conduct searches that involve a slight intrusion on the students privacy if the state has a compelling reason to conduct the search.
22: 5. In the 2002 Board of Education v. Earls case, the Supreme Court used the Vernonia ruling to allow drug testing for extracurricular activities. 6. In the 2009 case, Stafford Unified School District v. Redding, the Supreme court decided that the strip search of a middle schooler for drugs violated the Fourth Amendment.
23: 7. The Vernonia v. Acton case supported the decision in the New Jersey v. T.L.O. Supreme Court Case that happened in 1985.