The DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has a policy that requires teachers at facilities licensed by OSSE to be subject to random drug and alcohol testing.  OSSE licenses daycare centers, nursery schools and preschools, and argues that the drug testing is necessary for employees like nursery school and preschool teachers as they are in “safety sensitive positions” that are entrusted with the care and custody of children and youth.

We believe the policy conflicts with the Fourth Amendment, which generally does not permit blanket searches where individualized suspicion is absent.  An Administrative Judge at the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) has already agreed with us in a similar case, which involved drug testing of nursery school teachers. Nonetheless, OSSE continues to apply its policy to all other schools, on threat of losing their licenses.  

In September 2016, we filed a complaint and a motion for a preliminary injunction. After being granted two extensions of time to respond, on October 24, 2016, the defendants moved for a stay of proceedings pending Councilmember Grosso’s anticipated introduction of legislation to amend the statute that, OSSE asserts, mandates the testing. We consented and the stay was granted.

In April 2018, the Court ruled that private nursery-school teachers in D.C. have a significant expectation of privacy and that the Defendant’s interests do not justify a random, suspicionless drug testing policy.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Dechert LLP

Date filed

September 6, 2016

Status

Victory!

Stay informed

ACLU of the District of Columbia is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National