Pubdate: Tue, 13 Aug 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel, Daily Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


HARTSELLE -- The Hartselle Board of Education agreed that it would adopt 
the most inclusive student drug-testing policy in the area. The policy will 
test every student participating in an extracurricular activity. The school 
system will implement it this academic year.

Policies in Lawrence and Limestone counties, and a policy the Decatur 
system will vote on today at 4 p.m., test only students in competitive 
extracurricular activities.

Hartselle will test every student at least once. After the initial test, 
students are subject to random testing.

"We wanted to make sure that no student was able to get by without at least 
one test," board member Ron Abercrombie said at Monday night's meeting.

The school system will use money from the Trico Steel tax settlement to 
fund the project.

Superintendent Lee Hartsell said the budget includes $23,000 for drug 
testing. The school board agreed to ask the City Council for additional 
money to help fund the program.

A second reading of the drug policy will be Thursday night at 6 in the 
central office on College Street. Hartsell said he wants another meeting 
after Thursday night to inform parents and students what is included in the 

Susan Hayes, assistant principal at the high school, was chairwoman of the 
committee that drafted the proposed policy. She told the board that the 
committee recommended testing for tobacco because tobacco affects more 
children when they reach adulthood.

"The punishment for a positive tobacco test is treated the same way as a 
positive test for marijuana," Hayes said.

Board member Joe Berry offered the only negative comments about the 
drug-testing policy. He questioned the use of baseline testing.

"What will it accomplish?" he asked. Berry said the U.S. Army tested him 
when he was in the military. He said the board would not solve Hartselle's 
drug problem with drug testing. "We need to take a closer look at why we 
are testing," he said.

"We're testing to deter drug use," Abercrombie responded.

Board member Jeff Gray said he hopes that the board never sees a positive 
drug test.

"Does this mean that it is a waste of money?" he said. "No."

Berry's views of the policy softened after the discussion. He said the 
board needs to adopt a policy it can implement and make sure the school 
system is prepared to deal with a positive test. Hartsell assured him that 
the counseling would be available.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom