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Drug policy Judge grants an injunction in PV random testing

Published May 07. 2011 09:00AM

Carbon County Judge Steven R. Serfass has granted a preliminary injunction ordering the Panther Valley School District to stop enforcing its drug policy concerning sports and other extracurricular activities.

In a 19 page memorandum opinion issued Thursday Serfass ruled that Morgan and Donna Thomas, of Summit Hill, who filed an action against the policy, have satisfied their burden "and are entitled to a preliminary injunction in this matter."

The Thomas' filed the action because their son, Jeremy Thomas, 18, was forced off the golf team when he and his parents refused to sign a form agreeing to the policy which included mandatory random drug testing. They also filed the action on behalf of one of their daughters, a juvenile.

At a hearing held last Friday afternoon before Serfass, attorneys representing Thomas argued that the policy is unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took up the cause of the couple in their action.

The school district adopted the policy on Aug. 26, 2010, which included three types of drug testing for students in grades six to12. They were: voluntary testing, reasonable suspicion testing and random mandatory testing. The last element of the policy was the one that the ACLU felt was unconstitutional, although it argued that the entire policy was not legal.

Serfass noted that the applicable law in the matter states, "A court shall issue a preliminary or special injunction only after written notice and hearing unless it appears to the satisfaction of the court that immediate and irreparable injury will be sustained before notice can be given or hearing held."

At Friday's hearing the ACLU argued that Jeremy Thomas is suffering harm because he was removed from the golf team and that he would be unable to attend his high school prom, which is May 7.

The school district argued, in part, that sports and other extracurricular activities were not mandatory requirements of a students' education and therefore the policy was legally enforceable.

Serfass ordered the school district is enjoined from "enforcing, maintaining or taking steps to further the random drug and alcohol testing provisions" of the policy; the district "immediately allow the plaintiffs to participate in school extracurricular activities and athletics, and to obtain school parking permits, to the extent that the plaintiffs would be eligible for such privileges in the absence" of the policy; that the plaintiffs, as court rule of civil procedure, are required to file an approved bond or deposit legal tender with the prothonotary of the county in the amount of $100; that the preliminary injunction granted is effective until such time as the plaintiffs post security as set forth; and the plaintiffs or their agents are "hereby authorized to serve copies of this order upon the defendant and all those acting in concert with them."

Serfass also ruled that the order will remain in full force and effect until such time as the court "specifically orders otherwise."

The order does not stop the two other provisions of the policy which are voluntary testing and reasonable suspicion.

No date for a full hearing on the matter has been set by the court.

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