New Jersey Student Sues Over Drug Tests, Expulsion

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, May 24, 2004.

  1. Newsbrief: New Jersey Student Sues Over Drug Tests, Expulsion


    Under its zero-tolerance anti-drug policy, the Washington Township, New Jersey, school district expelled Adam Gutin in August 2000 and has kept him from returning ever since. Gutin was expelled after testing positive for marijuana in a school-administered drug test. Now, he is suing the school district in federal court, charging that both the drug testing and the district's harsh punishment are unconstitutional.

    In the lawsuit filed last month, Gutin claims that although he consented to be tested, he was too young to lawfully consent, and his parents did not give permission. In one case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld school drug testing at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, the court noted the school district in question required consent from both student and parent.

    Gutin's attorney, Christopher Manganello, told the South Jersey News that he was also suing on the grounds that Gutin did not receive equal protection under the law. Gutin was deprived of a "free and appropriate public education" because of the district's zero-tolerance policy. The district did not consider "reasonable alternative educational options," the lawsuit alleges.

    In the Hunterdon case upheld by the State Supreme Court, students who tested positive were not expelled but only suspended from non-educational activities and required to take counseling or other treatment. The district also established an assistance program that provided drug counseling for students and their families. But the Washington Township school system provides none of that – only expulsion.

    Gutin and his parents are suing for punitive damages as well as damages to cover fees and the costs of repeated appeals. Legal costs for the appeals have been "substantial," Manganello said.

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