Vernonia School District V. Acton

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Brycen Wojta
Ms. Sheehan
Gov. 12, Hr. 4
Dec. 17, 2012

Vernonia School District v. Acton (1995)

Case Identification
The Vernonia School District v. Acton case took place in 1995 at the Rehnquist Court at Vernonia High School in Oregon(1). This case was decided on Monday, June 26, 1995 (2).
In a town named Vernonia, Oregon, the local public schools faced a major problem regarding the drug use of students while participating in high school athletics (3). The Vernonia School Board were disturbed that drug use increases the risk of sports-related injury (4), so they approved an anti-drug policy, the Student Athlete Drug Policy, which requires random drug testing of the school’s student athletes (5). However, this became a conflict with the parents of a child named James Acton. The parents refused to sign a consent form to allow their kid to take the drug test because they felt it went against the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable” searches (6). The case was dismissed in the Federal District Court and was appealed to the Court of Appeals for the 9th District (7). This court favored the Acton families’ complaint, but random drug testing in public schools was ruled allowable in 1988 in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin (8). The case went on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to conclude conflicting court decisions (9).

Constitutional Question
Does random drug testing of high school athletes violate the reasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment (10)?

Petitioner’s Argument
An example of a search subject to the demands of the 4th amendment is a state-compelled collection and testing of urine, including the requirements of the Student Athlete Drug Policy, which was determined by the Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Association 1989 (11). By the case New Jersey v. T.L.O. 1985, the State’s power, in public schools, is tutelary and custodial over students. This allows a higher degree of supervision and control that other...
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