Do Public Schools Need to Check Their Math on Random Drug Testing?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 12, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: Keeping control of the nation's schools. According to a University of Michigan study, about half of all high school seniors say they've taken illegal drugs.

According to a study in Oregon, if public schools randomly drug test student athletes, which the Supreme Court says is fine, the likelihood of them using narcotics falls dramatically.

So doing the math, after all, we are in school here, it would seem random drug testing for students is a good thing. Not so fast.

The ACLU and others say it's a privacy violation. And with us now is Rebecca Rose Woodland, an attorney who has strong opinions on this issue.

Now you know that the Supreme Court has said, "that schools should be held to a lower standard of search and seizure laws due to the fact that school officials have the responsibility to maintain a proper learning environment." All right, so you know that.


O'REILLY: OK. So as a former teacher, I say if a school has a drug problem, all right, which means there's an epidemic, because drug use among children is a contagion. You understand that.

WOODLAND: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: OK, it's a contagion.

WOODLAND: After all, it's a serious problem.

O'REILLY: Right. The school has a drug problem. Random drug testing, taking the hair out of a kid, all right, with privacy rights — I mean, you can't hand it over to the cops, only to school officials and the parents know — is an absolute legitimate tool to use. Am I wrong?

WOODLAND: It's a legitimate tool, as long as we use it with justifiable basis.

O'REILLY: But what does that mean?


O'REILLY: What's a justifiable basis?

WOODLAND: We've got the Fourth Amendment, right? We have protections, constitutional protections, for everyone in the country, not just students, everyone, that we can't have unlawful searches and seizures.

The Supreme Court has held that drug testing is a search. So let's try to make it that the schools have to justify the reasoning for the testing.

O'REILLY: Well, they do justify it, though. They say that we have a problem. The school has a problem. We can document the problem by showing there are kids in rehab or whatever. And then, we want to deal with the problem by random, random drug testing because that drives use down by all the studies.

WOODLAND: Well, the studies say that it drives use down a bit, but there are studies that show that extracurricular activities drive drug use down. So I think what we want to say, is if there's a reason, let's allow them to drug test.

O'REILLY: Well, what's the reason?


O'REILLY: The ACLU says no, flat out no. You're invading the privacy of the child. And you know, the ACLU, by the way, the reason they do this is because they want drugs legalized. They believe that everybody has a right to poison themself, including children.

WOODLAND: Well, that's a problem. I mean, I agree that.

O'REILLY: You don't agree with the ACLU, then?

WOODLAND: Who would agree that drugs are appropriate for a child? I don't.

O'REILLY: Well...

WOODLAND: Drugs aren't appropriate for anyone, right?

O'REILLY: Let's be honest. The ACLU is not saying they're appropriate. They're saying that the privacy rights of the child override any attempt to try to keep the child away from drugs.

WOODLAND: You know, they use — whatever their background is, whatever reasoning they have, they do support it with a constitutional argument. And the thing is, Bill, we don't want to have the slippery slope of the Constitution being eroded...

O'REILLY: The slippery slope again!

WOODLAND: No, come on. I mean.

O'REILLY: I want to deal with the drug problem.

WOODLAND: I agree.

O'REILLY: I'll deal with the slope later.

WOODLAND: I agree. How about we address the parents? Can the parents…

O'REILLY: No, there are bad parents.

WOODLAND: Oh, there are bad parents.

O'REILLY: There's too many bad parents.


O'REILLY: You can't address the parents.

WOODLAND: I agree. Well, sometimes.

O'REILLY: The school has an obligation.


O'REILLY: The school has an obligation, No. 1…


O'REILLY: …to have a safe environment.

WOODLAND: That's true.

O'REILLY: If some kid's slammed out of his mind, that kid doesn't belong there.

WOODLAND: That's right.

O'REILLY: No. 2 — has an obligation to protect the students and random drug testing protects them by discouraging drug use on campus. Come on!

WOODLAND: As long as we do it within the constitutional rights that everybody has. See, then we allow everyone to have constitutional rights…

O'REILLY: Well, you can't drug test me.

WOODLAND: …and balance.

O'REILLY: You can't drug test me as an adult.

WOODLAND: No, do we want to do that, though?


WOODLAND: We don't want to erode the Constitution.

O'REILLY: …you might want to do it after some of these programs.

WOODLAND: Well, no, no.

O'REILLY: Look, I'm telling you, that the state of Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that you can search a kid's locker because the locker is school property. OK?

WOODLAND: Well, you know, that's within the parameters...

O'REILLY: Right.

WOODLAND: …of that recent Supreme Court decision.

O'REILLY: And I'm just extending that by telling you, that if the student's in the classroom, the school has a right to monitor the student's behavior by this.

But anyway, we appreciate you coming on in.

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