Pubdate: Fri, 31 May 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Bayne Hughes


The community got its first chance to voice opinions Thursday night at 
Austin High School in a public hearing on a drug-testing proposal for 
Decatur's high schools.

But not many people were interested. Only 24 people attended. Most were 
school board members, staff and members of the committee that developed the 

Fairness and cost were the two main points of discussion on the committee's 
recommendation to test students involved in competitive extracurricular 

A couple of people among a handful of parents of Austin students expressed 
concern that only students participating in athletics, band, chorus, JROTC 
drill team, math team and 10 other competitive activities would be tested.

One woman, who did not give her name and left before the meeting was 
finished, said she would consider pulling her daughter out of athletics 
before subjecting her to a drug test that she thought was unfair.

"I'm all for drug tests, but I'm dead set against testing just athletes," 
she said.

Steve Locke, a father of a recent graduate and another child in the eighth 
grade, also said the drug tests do not test enough of the students. He 
questioned whether the cost, estimated at between $15,000 and $18,000 per 
year, was worth testing such a small percentage of students.

"I don't think 30 percent of the population of students is worth spending 
that money, when it can be spent on something more useful," said Locke, who 
thinks the cost will also be higher than committee estimated. "All we've 
heard from the city of Decatur is we don't have enough money. I don't see 
that random tests would be of that much benefit."

Locke said the students who would be subject to the tests are not the ones 
that usually get involved in drugs. He favors just testing "for cause" 
because coaches and sponsors are around these students enough to know when 
they might be using drugs.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens