An Indiana Superior Court judge struck down a school district’s random drug testing policy, saying it did not require reasonable suspicion of drug use before selecting a student for testing.

Judge George Beamer also said the Penn-Harris-Madison school district did not prove that student athletes were leaders of the schools’ drug culture or that there was a special need to test students who drive to school or who are involved in extracurricular activities.

Penn-Howard-Madison’s policy had permitted testing of students who fit those categories.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed. We think our drug testing policy was making a big, positive difference,” said Dave Risner, director of pupil services. “We hope we don’t go in the opposite direction.”

Beamer made the ruling despite a previous federal court ruling to allow some testing.

“I feel a large sense of vindication because I feel that he [Beamer] very accurately stated our position, and his opinion lends credibility to our position in this matter,” said Linda Petill, whose daughters were plaintiffs in a 1998 suit challenging the policy. Part of the Penn-Howard-Madison case went to federal court, which upheld portions of the policy.

Beamer’s ruling voided the entire policy, despite the federal ruling.

“This wasn’t about drugs. It was about us losing our personal freedoms,” Petill said.

For now, his decision has no effect on Penn-Harris-Madison’s policy. The corporation had suspended all drug testing earlier this year following an appeals court decision striking down a similar policy in Howard County.

Penn-Howard-Madison and several other school districts have joined Northwestern School Corporation in Howard County in an appeal of that case.