Our Opinion: Drug screenings at Linn Tech reflect reality

Linn State Technical College has adopted a sensible, widespread drug testing policy for its students.

The policy — among the most expansive at a public educational facility — has rankled some civil libertarians and prompted threats of lawsuits.

School officials argue drug tests are necessary to promote safety among students who work with aircraft, heavy machinery, nuclear technology and other dangerous tasks.

Educators also contend the drug screenings reflect policies future employers will invoke.

Civil libertarians believe the drug tests invade privacy and violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment Protection against unlawful searches and seizures.

They also counter the safety argument by pointing out drug screenings apply to all first-year students — including those in the non-threatening career paths of accounting, math, communications or other programs.

A member of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association, Columbia attorney Dan Viets, said: “They’re trying to break some new ground here. I don’t think the courts will uphold it.”

But school officials, and their legal counsel, believe they are on solid footing. “It does appear our program is unique in its scope and breadth,” said Kent Brown, a Jefferson City attorney who represents the Linn school. “But there aren’t very many colleges as unique as ours.”

If a legal challenge arises — and we hope it doesn’t — we defer to the attorneys to argue the applicable laws.

But in the court of common sense, we find Linn State Technical College’s widespread drug testing policy to be eminently reasonable.

Educational facilities are designed to prepare students for the workplace. Workplaces apply rules — regarding punctuality, dress codes, appropriate behavior and drug screenings.

We have no problem when schools — public or private — choose to reflect reality when preparing students.

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