Why my school district may NOT drug-test my child

By Alan Bean, parent of high-school student Amos Bean of Tulia, Texas

1. Drug-testing students violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution which guarantees "due process of law".

2. Drug-testing students reverses the legal principle that we are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Drug testing tells kids they are guilty until they prove their innocence by peeing into a plastic cup.

3. Drug-testing students violates the Fourth Amendment which guarantees that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." A search for incriminating evidence is "unreasonable" when there is no probable cause. I defy anyone to tell me there is probable cause for drug-testing my son or for sending a drug-sniffing dog to inspect his locker.

4. Drug-testing students violates the Fifth Amendment which states that "no person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Not only are the students of the Tulia Independent School District (TISD) assumed guilty; they are asked to provide the evidence of their own guilt. The Framers of the Constitution deprived the government of the right to go on fishing expeditions by hauling people into court and forcing them to answer random questions until some evidence of a crime turns up. Drug testing students violates this principle by allowing the government (and TISD is an arm of the government) to go on a pharmacological fishing expedition.

5. Drug-testing students violates the atmosphere of trust that is the foundation of good discipline. Urine tests are invasive, embarrassing, humiliating and degrading. As such, they sever the relationship of trust between educator and student. Kids abusing drugs will talk to a teacher who cares enough to win their trust. But street-smart adolescents regard a school-sanctioned drug-test as both an insult to their integrity and a challenge to their ingenuity. Drug testing sends the message: We won't trust you until you prove yourself worthy of our trust. In actuality, the onus is on the teacher and the administrator to earn the trust of the student.

6. Since TISD claims to be functioning in loco parentis, that is, in the capacity of a surrogate parent, they must treat my son the way I would treat him if I were present. I trust Amos and behave accordingly. I would never force my son to submit to a degrading, humiliating, invasive drug test. If TISD does not trust my son, and demonstrates this basic lack of trust by forcing him to submit to a drug test, they have surrendered the right to serve as his surrogate parent.

7. I am opposed to the drug-testing program instituted by TISD because it turns educators into judges with the authority to issue search warrants, police officers with the authority to execute suspicionless searches, and medical professionals with the power to conduct invasive medical procedures. If TISD requires my written authorization before they can give my child a Tylenol tablet, why is it assumed that they can test my child for drugs with impunity?

8. I oppose drug-testing students because TISD uses the carrot of athletics to make the stick of drug testing palatable. Permission is thus coerced by threat and bribery, and is not voluntary in any meaningful sense. We are telling our kids, "Look, abandon your constitutional rights by submitting to this suspicionless search, and we'll let you play football." If the athletic program offered by TISD possesses no educational value, it is a frivolous enterprise unworthy of our tax support. If the athletic program at TISD does contribute to the education of our children, it is a right and must therefore be made available to all without prejudice.

9. I oppose the drug-testing program instituted by TISD because it has not been administered in a random fashion. Thus, the constitutional right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment is denied. Students have been drug-tested as a form of reprisal for their parent's political activities. Students with no involvement in athletics have been tested. There is no mechanism in place to ensure that all children are tested without regard to race, social standing, or ethnicity; nor are there any records available to demonstrate that all children have been tested on a truly random basis.

10. I oppose the drug-testing program instituted by TISD because it encourages unthinking submission and 'herd' behavior. We are teaching conformity rather than building character. This unquestioning submission to social pressure is at the root of every foolish, self-destructive decision our children make.

11. I oppose drug-testing students because at-risk children, who would benefit from the discipline and team spirit of athletics, are encouraged to quit the team or switch from a tested drug like marijuana to an untested drug like alcohol. If they quit the team, drug use typically escalates. If they switch to a socially approved drug, their dependency issues are not addressed.

12. Finally, I oppose drug-testing students because kids gutsy enough to say "no" to a search that has been declared unconstitutional in a federal court of law are penalized, stigmatized, shunned and interrogated. We are teaching our children to be craven, unprincipled conformists. Character is developed not through bribery and coercion, but through patient trust and compelling example. Therefore, I insist that TISD refrain from drug-testing my child, Amos Bean, while allowing Amos full participation in the athletic program offered by Tulia High School.