HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed legislation to mandate all prospective school employees to submit to government-sanctioned drug tests. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania called House Bill 810, “invasive, impractical, and unconstitutional.”

“Blanket drug testing of prospective employees is unnecessary government invasion into a person’s private life,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The government cannot take a biological sample from a person without some suspicion of wrongdoing.

“The ACLU has successfully litigated this issue in other states in recent years, and I expect that we would likely challenge this in Pennsylvania, too, if this bill is ever implemented.”

Since 2009, various forms of suspicionless drug testing of school employees have been successfully challenged in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Hawai’i.

Questions abound about the practical need for such legislation. A 2007 study by the federal Department of Health and Human Services found that only four percent of workers in education use illicit substances, well below the national average of approximately 11 percent.

“School administrators already have the power to address unsafe employee conduct in school,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of ACLU of Pennsylvania. “They can test for drugs with suspicion and can discipline employees for inappropriate workplace behavior.

“Drug testing is embarrassing and invasive. It is like a biological version of a person’s medical records. It reveals disease, prescription drug use, and pregnancy. The government doesn’t need to know this private information.”

House Bill 810 now heads to the state Senate for its consideration.