Pubdate: Wed, 06 Feb 2002
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2002 Chattanooga Publishing Co.
Author: Pat Mahoney


DALTON, Ga. -- Whitfield County student-athletes will be subject to random 
drug testing next year.

The Whitfield County Board of Education on Tuesday approved the first 
reading of a new policy to allow high school student-athletes to undergo 
random drug testing. Drug dogs brought to Northwest High School last fall 
sniffed out marijuana in three student vehicles in the parking lot.

"The policy is something we need to have," said Northwest principal Sonny 
Day. "It's not just to catch kids involved in drugs. Rather, it gives kids 
an opportunity to have an out if approached by their peers. They can say, 
'I may be drug-tested.'"

The policy was considered following the discovery of the drugs at 
Northwest, said Whitfield County school superintendent Tom Dickson. It also 
will apply to Southeast High School.

"We've had significant conversation amongst parents, board members and 
teachers. When several athletes were found with drugs, it became a serious 
situation," Dickson said. "The Supreme Court has limited it to 
student-athletes. It could possibly expand."

The policy was initiated by parents, not administrators, school board 
chairman Mark Fidler said.

"It's parent-driven, not board-driven. It's from the parents of athletes 
and other parents in the school system," Fidler said. "(Athletes) are role 
models for schools. I think we will find out that, in general, athletes are 
top-quality students."

Students who test positive for drugs will receive counseling, Fidler said.

"We want to get them on the right road," Fidler said. "We are just trying 
to give the parents reassurance."

A second reading is scheduled March 5 to make the new policy official.

A similar policy has been in effect in Catoosa County for four years.
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