Pubdate: Sun, 15 Dec 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel


HARTSELLE - The mother of one of the baseball players whom Hartselle 
Medical Center drug-tested in March alleges that the City Council has used 
her son for political gain.

Michelle Grisham said the council was out to get the jobs of Hartselle High 
School Principal Jerry Reeves and Superintendent Lee Hartsell.

"It's a shame the way adults have acted in this situation," Grisham said. 
"I'm angry. I'm very angry because of what this has done to my son."

The son, Eric Grisham, a senior at Hartselle High, was one of two students 
school officials transported to Hartselle Medical Center after they 
apparently fainted in school, she said.

The council majority denied her allegations.

"What did we have to gain politically?" Councilman Frank Jones asked. "Our 
concerns were how school officials handled the situation."

After months of silence, Grisham said she wanted to set the record straight 
about her son and the rumors that were circulating about rampant drug use 
among athletes in Hartselle, especially baseball players, after two 
students became ill at school.

Grisham said her son submitted to a drug test March 4 and took another drug 
test March 6.

"He passed all of them," she said. "They screened for nine different drugs."

The mother said she was angry that her son had to submit to the March 6 
drug test because the school system did not have probable cause to request one.

To prove her point, Grisham said, she requested a copy of her son's medical 
records from the hospital and carried them to Hartsell.

"I wanted them to know what the diagnoses were so they would have accurate 
information," she said.

According to the mother, the doctors diagnosed her son as "near syncope," 
which means he almost fainted.

Grisham said Hartsell told her that her son would not be able to play 
baseball if he did not take the March 6 test.

"We had no choice," she said. "I fought them on the (March 6) test, but my 
son wanted to play baseball."

The mother said she is most angry with the City Council members. She 
accuses city leaders of using the children as a "scapegoat" for political gain.

"If they cared about the kids, they would have handled this matter in a 
different way," Grisham said.

Councilman Allen Stoner was the first to call for an investigation into how 
the school system handled the matter.

Stoner declined to comment on Grisham's allegations.

Less than one week after Stoner requested an independent investigation, 
Hartselle baseball coach William Booth and several baseball parents 
addressed the council.

For almost 30 minutes March 25, Booth outlined the success of the baseball 
program and accused the council of "spreading rumors."

"Coach Booth has been extremely supportive of Eric and that has helped him 
through this," Grisham said.

While the coach was talking to the council, at least four councilmen and 
Mayor Clif Knight were already aware that one player had failed a drug 
test, they said later.

"We didn't say anything at the meeting because we didn't want to embarrass 
any of the kids," Councilman Richard "Dick" Carter said.

Carter said the council was concerned because the superintendent was aware 
of the results and took no disciplinary action against the student.

Hartsell said the school board could not discipline the player because the 
school system could not prove that the drug use took place at school or at 
a school-related event.

The school board did adopt a student drug-testing program and is 
implementing it this year.

Grisham said the system has tested her son twice since implementing the 
drug-testing policy, and he passed both tests. The first test was given to 
all students in extracurricular activities and the second test was a random 

The mother said her son has low blood sugar, and that is the reason he 
fainted March 4. Grisham said he had a similar situation when he was a 
junior high school student. She said he never fell out or collapsed in school.

"He walked to the principal's car," she said. "If he had collapsed, or was 
on drugs, I don't think he would be able to do this."

Mrs. Grisham said she had no problem signing the consent form to have her 
child drug-tested. "If my child had a drug problem, I wanted to know," she 
said. "I'm not going to put blinders on."

The mother, who is a registered nurse, said she wants to dismiss rumors 
that someone tampered with the tests.

The first test on March 4, she said, was a split sample. The hospital 
tested one of the samples and a laboratory in North Carolina tested the 
other, Grisham said.

"There has never been any kind of cover-up involving my son," she said. "My 
son has passed every drug test. My son is a National Honor Society member 
with a 3.7 grade-point average. I want to set the record straight so he can 
put this issue behind him and move on with his life."
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