Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jul 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Bayne Hughes


The Morgan County Substance Abuse Network, a program administered by the 
Mental Health Association, has a project it hopes helps teens say no to drugs.

Project I.D. is short for independent decision-making. It is a voluntary 
drug-test program that rewards students for choosing not to use drugs, 
alcohol and tobacco products.

According to Mental Health Association Executive Director Sue Brantley, 
middle school students register for the program with their parents' 
permission for random drug tests.

In return, students get a Project I.D. card that gives them discounts and 
bonuses from local businesses on things like food, video rentals, 
electronics, clothes and hairstyling. The project had 43 businesses 
participate in its first year in Decatur's middle schools, Brookhaven, 
Cedar Ridge and Oak Park, and will expand to Morgan County and Hartselle 
schools this year.

"We reward them for making the decision not to use drugs," Mrs. Brantley said.

Mrs. Brantley said Project I.D. was a success in its first year in Decatur. 
The project will expand to eighth-graders in the coming year in Decatur and 
seventh and eighth grades in Morgan County and Hartselle City school systems.

"We're looking for more businesses in Morgan County, Decatur and Hartselle 
to participate for the upcoming school year," she said.

Call 353-1160 for more information on Project I.D., or if you would like 
your business to participate.

Calhoun Community College's Nursing Department partners with MCSAN on the 
project. Calhoun's nursing staff conducts the drug tests, and nursing 
students assist MCSAN in working with the students. Tests are confidential 
with only one school official privy to the results. Students must be 
willing to:

a.. Sign and have parent/guardian sign permission forms.

a.. Display good behavior in school and the community;

a.. Participate in initial urinalysis drug testing;

a.. Participate in random urinalysis drug testing. Students who fail are 
not subject to school discipline or legal action, but privileges may be 
permanently suspended if tests are repeatedly positive.

A total of 707 of seventh-grade students participated during 2001-02. 
During initial testing in September 2002, 42 percent of Decatur's 
seventh-graders chose to participate. With a first random test conducted in 
February, participation increased to 46 percent of the total number eligible.

Decatur Superintendent Larry Walters said he got positive feedback on 
Project I.D. He said one of his goals is to hike the percentage.

The number of participants surprised Brookhaven Middle School Principal 
Larry Collier. His school had 120 out of 220 involved in the first year. 
"It tells us that most kids dislike the use of drugs and alcohol," he said.

Walters said the success of Project I.D. is one reason a committee chose 
not to include proposed mandatory drug tests in the middle school. High 
school students involved in competitive extracurricular activities will be 
subject to random tests for alcohol, tobacco and drugs, if the Decatur 
Board of Education approves the plan in August. According to Walters, the 
school board may consider expanding mandatory tests into the middle schools 
if the high school testing is successful.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens