Pubdate: Wed, 31 Jul 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Bayne Hughes, Daily Education Writer


Superintendent Don Murphy pointed out a course of action Tuesday in an 
inaugural meeting of committee studying drug testing for Morgan County Schools.

Murphy gave the committee several areas to study and consider before it 
meets again, which he said will be sometime after Labor Day.

a.. Who will be tested. Limestone and Law-rence counties test only athletes 
and band. Decatur's plan, if approved when it is considered in August, 
would test students involved in competitive extracurricular activities. But 
a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision said students involved in all 
extracurricular activities can be tested. Murphy said they also must decide 
whether to test grades 7-12 or grades 9-12. If only grades 9-12 are tested, 
middle school students who compete in high school extracurricular 
activities will also be subject.

a.. The percentage of the students that will be involved in the random tests.

a.. How they will test and how much will it cost. Most school systems use 
random urine tests because blood tests are too invasive and expensive. 
Urine tests cost about $30 per student. According to Director of 
Maintenance and Transportation George Crawford, whose bus drivers already 
submit to random tests, a new saliva test would be less expensive at about 
$10. A positive test is called "inconclusive," and then the subject would 
be retested with urine tests to obtain a more complete result.

Murphy estimated the cost to be between $30,000 and $90,000 for the initial 
testing of all students participating in extracurricular activities in the 
school system. He believes $50,000 for the entire program "would be worth 
the money."

a.. Which drugs will included in the test, and whether they want to include 
alcohol and tobacco.

a.. Consequences of a positive tests -- How long will students be held out 
of an activity, and will they have to participate in rehabilitation? Morgan 
County is the latest in the area to consider random drug tests. Murphy said 
he wants the committee to study other school system's testing programs. He 
said he will fax a copy of these policies, so committee members can study 
them for ideas.

The superintendent does not have a timetable for completing and 
implementing a proposed drug testing policy. The committee will form a 
policy and send the proposal to the policy committee, which will the 
recommend it to the school board for final approval.

"When we do it, we want to do it right," Murphy said. "We're not going to 
jump on it just because Decatur and Hartselle did it, although I will say 
this is something we need to do."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart