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Miami-Dade Schools to Test Students for Steroids: Is This Legal?

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on August 07, 2014 12:30 PM

The Miami-Dade County School Board has announced that it will begin testing high school athletes for steroid use during the upcoming school year.

The school district hopes that the pilot testing program, the specifics of which are still being worked out, will discourage the use of performance enhancing drugs by district students, reports the Miami Herald. Announcement of the program comes after Antonio Bosch, founder of the Biogenesis clinic linked to steroid use by Major League Baseball players, admitted to also providing steroids to Florida high school athletes.

While the program may be well-intentioned, is it legal?

Legality of School Drug Testing

Although the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids unreasonable searches, the U.S. Supreme Court has found that drug testing of public school students is constitutional under three circumstances:

  1. Student athletes. In the 1995 case of Vernonia v. Acton, the Supreme Court found that mandatory drug tests of all student athletes, even when no suspicion of drug use exists, would not violate the Fourth Amendment.
  2. Extracurricular activities. In 2002's Board of Education v. Earls, the Supreme Court expanded the rationale in Vernonia to apply to students engaged in any extracurricular activity.
  3. Reasonable suspicion. For students not engaged in extracurricular activities or sports, schools must typically have a reasonable suspicion of drug use in order to conduct drug testing.

State laws may also affect the legality of public school drug testing.

Miami-Dade's Drug Testing Plan

Although the details are still being determined, Miami-Dade's drug testing plan will likely be constitutional if limited to drug testing students involved in athletics. Due to the expense of drug testing -- more than $50 per sample analyzed -- the Miami-Dade program will likely be either randomized or will test only athletes suspected of using steroids.

In 2007, the Florida legislature instituted its own pilot steroid testing program, testing 600 athletes from 53 schools across five different sports. Only one athlete tested positive for steroids, reports the Miami Herald. In addition, several other Florida counties also currently test student athletes for PEDs.

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