Student thinks issue a symptom of disappearing rights

The former Loyalsock Township High School student who challenged the district’s drug testing policy in court is disappointed in Judge Richard Gray’s ruling in favor of the school district.

“According to this ruling, it appears that it is an outdated concept that someone should be secure in his person, house, papers and effects,” Brandon Fagnano said. “There seem to be large numbers of people willing to accept draconian violations of their rights for convenience, safety, security, ecetera. Even within schools, a generation is being conditioned to accept such violations if it is being done in the name of some perceived public good, such as school safety or national security.”

Fagnano, who will enter his second year of a mechanical engineering program at Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University in the fall, said he hopes carrying the case forward after he graduated shows people how strongly he feels.

“There was no personal gain in this for me. I was taking a stand for the rights for the kids left behind at Loyalsock,” he said.

Though some students spoke out in favor of a drug testing policy, others, including honors students, did not support the policy, Fagnano said.

“I didn’t see it as necessary. It was very direct in making a person insecure in their persons.”

The student testimony that Gray cited as the most convincing reason he issued his ruling was not convincing, in Fagnano’s opinion.

“It was anecdotal qualitative evidence that, even in court, was acknowledged as hearsay,” he said.

Gray wrote, in his opinion, that the student testimony was admissible because it showed what state of mind the Student Athletics and Activities Committee was in when it wrote the testing policy, not that it would pass muster as actual testimony in court.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union who took on Fagnano’s case are “reviewing the viability of an appeal,” he said.

“The school random drug testing situation is representative of a larger problem, which is the gradual erosion of our First, Second, Fourth and Fifth amendments,” he said.