Pubdate: Fri, 25 Feb 2000
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2000 The Huntsville Times
Contact:  P.O. Box 1487, Huntsville, AL 35807
Fax: (256) 532-4213
Author: Ken Henderson


ARAB - A two-hour public forum with the Arab City Board of Education
Thursday night revealed broad support for random drug testing of all
students in the system, not just student athletes and cheerleaders.

Even though 1,500 students attend Arab High School, with about 750 student
athletes, only about 20 to 30 parents and teachers attended the session,
which Superintendent Edwin Cooley said yielded the reaction the board was
looking for.

But board attorney Claud Burke said although the courts have been
inconsistent on the legality of testing the entire student body of a school
system, numerous rulings uphold testing student athletes because they are
voluntarily playing sports and because of the risk of injury in athletics.

The proposed drug testing policy the board is considering would require only
student athletes to submit to random testing. Student athletes and their
parents would be required to sign a consent form stating they would be
willing to submit to the testing, and if they refused, they would be
suspended immediately from athletic activities.

Cooley said the school system has had numerous programs in place for several
years to try to deter drug use among students, including the Drug Abuse
Resistance Education (DARE) program and others, but a University of Colorado
study conducted three years ago showed that 50 percent of eighth-graders in
the school system had tried marijuana.

"If there is a program anywhere in the United States that has empirical
evidence that it's successful, we'll go for it," said Cooley.

Cooley said the proposed policy is being evaluated by attorneys for the
school system's liability insurance carrier and by state board of education
officials and he could ask for a special meeting in two or three weeks to
approve it. He said it would be several more weeks after approval before the
system would be ready to ask for specimens for testing.
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