Pubdate: Thu, 27 Jun 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Walters Welcomes Supreme Court's 5-4 Decision Today

Decatur City Superintendent Larry Walters said he would recommend that the 
school board move forward and adopt a random drug-testing policy.

"This is what we have been waiting for," Walters said this morning when 
told that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that school systems can test 
students who participate in extracurricular activities.

The Hartselle City and Morgan County school systems also are considering 
drug-testing policies. All of the local systems have been waiting on the 

In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court said that the school system's 
desire to eliminate drugs on campus outweighed any right to privacy.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for himself, Chief Justice 
William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and 
Stephen Breyer.

"We find that testing students who participate in extracurricular 
activities is a reasonably effective means of addressing the school 
district's legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring and detecting drug 
use," Thomas wrote.

The court stopped short of allowing random tests for any student, whether 
or not involved in extracurricular activities, but several justices have 
indicated they are interested in answering that question at some point.

"The particular testing program upheld today is not reasonable, it is 
capricious, even perverse," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the 

In a brief, separate dissent, Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter 
said they disagreed with the court's ruling in 1995 and disagree now.

School boards in Hartselle and Morgan County are in the developmental 
stages, but a 21-member committee has drafted a policy for Decatur City. 
Walters said the committee will take comments residents gave at two public 
hearings and incorporate them into the policy the group has already adopted.

"I can't tell you specifically what will be in the policy at this point, 
but the court's ruling opens the door for what we have been wanting to do," 
Walters said.

The superintendent said he will recommend a policy to the board, but said 
it will not be effective until the board approves it.
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