Appeals court rules Missouri college's drug tests of all students illegal

KANSAS CITY • A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a judge’s 2013 ruling that a central Missouri technical college’s mandatory drug testing policy is unconstitutional when applied to all students.

The full 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals, in a 9-2 ruling, sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in reversing an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same St. Louis-based court.

The panel overturned U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey’s permanent injunction that barred State Technical College of Missouri — formerly Linn State Technical College — from drug screening all of its roughly 1,200 students.

But Thursday’s 32-page ruling does uphold Laughrey’s permitting the college to drug test students in five programs involving safety-sensitive training — aviation maintenance, electrical distribution systems, industrial electricity, power sports, and servicing of Caterpillar heavy equipment.