Pubdate: Fri, 28 Jun 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Youth)


HARTSELLE -- The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Hartselle 
City School system to drug test students who participate in extracurricular 

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

Hartselle's drug committee meets Monday at 6 p.m. in the school system's 
central office on College Street.

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 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.

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.

Under pressure from the Hartselle City Council, the school board appointed 
a 13-member committee to develop a drug-testing policy for Hartselle.

The council's request for the policy came after a baseball player tested 
positive for marijuana use at Hartselle Medical Center on March 4. The 
council appoints school board members.

"I'm glad that the ruling came out at this time," Hartselle Mayor Clif 
Knight said. "I hope this will help the committee members in their efforts 
to reach their goal."

Knight wants the committee to adopt a policy that meets legal requirements 
and that school officials can apply fairly. "It would be expensive, but I'm 
not opposed to them testing the entire student body," Knight said. The 
court did not address universal testing.

School Board Chairman Susan Puckett said the ruling will enable the 
committee to make a determination as to what is best for Hartselle. At the 
last committee meeting, Mrs. Puckett and high school assistant principal 
Susan Hayes suggested that the group may recommend a drug education program 
over drug testing. Mrs. Hayes is chairman of the committee.

School board member Ronnie Abercrombie said the council appointed the group 
to draft a policy.

"Since the court has clarified who can be tested, maybe this will speed up 
the process of implementing a policy for Hartselle," Abercrombie said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom