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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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March 13, 2008 8:36 AM

Supreme Court rules against random school searches

Posted by David Postman

The state Supreme Court today said that school districts cannot conduct searches on school grounds without some suspicion of wrongdoing or a warrant.

Justice Richard Sanders wrote:

The school district asks us to adopt a "special needs" exception to the warrant requirement to allow random and suspicionless drug testing. But we do not recognize such an exception and hold warrantless random and suspicionless drug testing of student athletes violates the Washington State Constitution.

Article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution provides:

No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his
home invaded, without authority of law.

The case comes from the Wahkiakum School District which has a policy of randomly testing student atheltes for drugs. Parents of students -- who were tested -- sued the district saying the policy violated the state Constitution. The Superior Court, though, sided with the district.

It is a unanimous decision, though with three concurrences, by Barbara Madsen, Tom Chambers, and James Johnson.

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