Pubdate: Thu, 04 Nov 1999
Source: New Times (CA)
Author: Ken Cirisan


Recently Dr. Curt Dubost, superintendent of Templeton Unified School
District, responded to my editorial commentary regarding drug testing in
the Templeton School district ("Drugs, Kids, and School," Sept 9).

I feel compelled to respond to a few points that Dr. Dubost stated
["Templeton Drug Policy is Correct and Necessary," New Times Letters, Oct.
28] that I feel are erroneous.

1) Dr. Dubost states that school officials are held to a lesser search
standard of "reasonable suspicion" and not probable cause per the case of
New Jersey v. TLO. The definition of probable cause, per the U.S. Supreme
Court case of Terry v. Ohio is "reasonable suspicion that criminal activity
is afoot." Thus, school officials are subject to search only based on
probable cause - the same standard as everyone else.

2) Dr. Dubost cites a recent 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case (Miller
v. Wilkes) as unanimously upholding "random suspicionless drug testing of
extracurricular participants as a prerequisite to eligibility" as
reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Dr. Dubost would be wise to review the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion
(which circuit encompasses all of California and thus controls our
policies) of Powers v. Plumas County School District et al., filed Sept.
20, 1999, wherein the court reiterated the finding in Veronica v. Acton
1995, upholding suspicionless urinalysis of athletes based only on a
"school's immediate [drug] crisis"!

This case bears reading by Templeton officials, as it also opens the door
for a civil action against school districts for violations of privacy
interests for the use of drug-sniffing dogs, another proposed activity at

The 9th Circuit puts school districts on notice that they could be liable
for money damages and not subject to qualified immunity for allowing dogs
to sniff students and their belongings. The court found this action "highly
intrusive" and "distressing and thus, invasive." They concluded that the
students' privacy interests were not minimal.

If Templeton continues activities absent an "immediate drug crisis" (and
Dubost cites only anecdotal drug problems at Templeton High) the district
acts at it financial peril.

Ken Cirisan, San Luis Obispo

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