The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a case involving State Technical College of Missouri requiring students to take a drug test as a condition of enrollment. A federal appeals court decision stands, which has found the school, in the mid-Missouri town of Linn, has violated the U.S. Constitution by requiring such drug testing.
Tony Rothert with the ACLU of Missouri says the state and national chapter of his organization filed a class-action lawsuit in 2011 against the school, which blocked the first-of-its-kind public school policy from continuing while it was being considered in court.
“There have not been other public colleges, even public technical colleges, that have followed suit. I think it really shows that the drug testing program was a solution looking for a problem,” says Rothert. “If there’s a reason to believe that someone is under the influence of drugs and dangerous, schools have quite a bit of latitude, even public schools, to subject that person to a drug test. This was without suspicion, just requiring everyone to submit a urine sample. That would have been unprecedented.”
The school is still allowed to drug test students involved in dangerous curricular activities, including aviation maintenance and industrial electricity.
“The college actually does an excellent job. It provides close supervision by well-trained faculty and has a lot of safety mechanisms in place. There are very few injuries there and those that have occurred in the past are not in any way tied to any kind of drug use or drug problem,” says Rothert.
Rothert says a Constitutional argument could only be raised for public colleges and universities that want to enact a drug testing prerequisite for admission, not private ones.
In a statement from State Tech President Dr. Shawn Strong, he says before embarking on this course the college realized it might be called upon to defend its efforts “to protect Missouri’s college students from the physical dangers and economic perils of illicit drug use.”
“The courts have confirmed our right to drug test a number of our technical programs. We will now look at modifying our policies to comply with the ruling of the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals,” says Strong.
State Technical College of Missouri includes about 1,200 students.