Tuesday, June 02, 2009, 7:45 AM

COA: School Board's Drug/Alcohol Testing Policy Is Unconstitutional

Today the Court of Appeals (COA) held that a school board's policy mandating random drug and alcohol testing of all school board employees is unconstitutional because it violates the North Carolina Constitution's guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. The trial court had ruled for the school board. The case is Jones v. Graham County Board of Education.

The COA found the record lacking in evidence to establish a need for the testing (e.g., past incidents). And the COA rejected the notion that school board employees have a reduced expectation of privacy by virtue of their employment in a public school system. The Court distinguished the situation where public employment poses safety concerns justifying regulation of employees (the Court referred, by way of illustration, to a chemical weapons plant).

Judge Stephens wrote the opinion, which began by quoting a Justice Scalia dissent in turn quoting Justice Brandeis: "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

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