Crusader staff report
Marian Catholic High School’s drug testing program did not discriminate against seven students, according to an appeals court that unanimously upheld a lower court ruling March 29.
The decision ended a two-year battle parents waged after their children were expelled from the private school after they tested positive for drugs. Attorneys said the students were victims of racial discrimination who were subjected to culturally-biased drug tests at Marian, a private, traditionally-white school that has grown increasingly Black over the years. The school is located at 700 Ashland Avenue in Chicago Heights, Illinois.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 3-0 vote, said six Black students and a white student failed to prove that Marian Catholic’s drug tests violated federal civil rights laws.
The Chicago Crusader ran the story in 2015 after angry parents sued the school and the Catholic Archdiocese, alleging Marian Catholic used drug tests from Omega Laboratories that were flawed because they took hair samples from Black students whose coarse hair skews test results. Attorneys for the parents say Blacks are more likely to test positive than whites, especially blondes.
All of the students denied taking drugs. Despite their denials, the students were expelled anyway. One student was pulled out of class to be given the news.
Disputing the results, the parents of the expelled students paid to have their children tested by urine samples through independent companies at different facilities. Those laboratories include Quest Diagnostics and Franciscan Network. All of the tests drew negative results.
However, Chief Judge Diane Wood disagreed, saying even if Omega’s techniques were poor, there was a “far cry” from showing that the test was systematically biased.
“We readily accept the proposition that errors can creep into test results, but this does not show racial discrimination unless distinctions based on race explain what’s going on,” Woods wrote. “The operative complaint in this case fails to meet this burden.”