Pubdate: Fri, 05 Apr 2002
Source: Medford Mail Tribune (OR)
Copyright: 2002 The Mail Tribune
Author: Damian Mann
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Officials Say They're Costly; Student Athletes Say They're Discriminatory

Student athletes at Butte Falls High hope their school follows Prospect's 
lead in reconsidering a drug testing program.

They say mandatory testing of athletes is embarrassing, violates their 
rights and discriminates against them.

And it costs money the district doesn't have, they add.

"We're cutting two teachers because of budget problems, but we've got to 
drug test and spend money," said senior Tyler Hersom.

Senior Stacy Smith, who has been tested about 10 times because of her 
involvement in sports, said she finds it embarrassing.

"They make you do it in the office bathroom," she said. "You can see 
everyone lined up outside."

Butte Falls and Prospect have been drug testing for about eight years. They 
are the only two districts in Jackson County that require mandatory drug 
testing of student athletes.

Prospect Superintendent Don Alexander said he will urge the school board 
Monday night to end the program, which conducts more than 200 tests a year 
and costs about $5,000.

He said the money saved will help keep other programs afloat in a district 
that is looking at cutting $80,000 out of its $1.6 million budget.

Alexander said continuing the drug testing could mean cutting an athletic 
program. He hopes to suspend testing for a year.

A urinalysis tests for marijuana, opium, hallucinogens and 
methamphetamines. It cannot detect recent use of alcohol, however, which is 
one of the most popular drugs in Prospect and Butte Falls, school officials 
and students say.

Both Alexander and Clay Dunlap, superintendent of Butte Falls, are eyeing a 
case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that could make drug testing a 
moot issue.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of an Oklahoma 
student who said it was embarrassing to urinate in a bathroom while a 
teacher waited outside.

Students in Butte Falls agree. They say it's embarrassing to line up at the 
school office, go into the bathroom and bring out the sample that they hand 
to the secretary.

"You have to pee in a cup," said Stacy. "It's kind of gross."

Tyler said he's not embarrassed but does believe the testing is an 
infringement on his rights.

Sophomore Brianna Smeltz agreed. "It's about our rights and our privacy."

Just because the school district has drug testing doesn't mean no one takes 
drugs, some say.

"Don't come to the conclusion that Butte Falls is a drug-free zone," said 
Brianna's father, former school board member Mike Smeltz.

"I know kids who stop using the drugs to pass the test, then start using 
again," Stacy said.

She believes students who use drugs might stop using them if they were 
allowed to become athletes. "Maybe it would become more important than 
drugs," she said.

If drug testing is required, then coaches, teachers, administrators and 
board members should also be tested, she added.

"I think they should because they're our role models," she said.

Tyler said athletes are being unfairly singled out over all other students. 
"They should test all the people on the Brain Bowl, drama, whatever," he said.

"The hypocrisy of the program is startling to me," said Brianna.

Butte Falls board chairman Dennis Burg said if he had been a board member 
at the time the policy was voted in, he would have been against it.

"I don't like the hypocrisy of holding the kids to a higher standard than 
the employees," he said.

Personally, he thinks the policy could be driving some students away, 
rather than helping them.

But removing the drug-testing policy is not a simple matter, he said.

"This is one of the things I've talked about in the past, but I came up 
against community members who don't even like to discuss the policy."

Burg said the cost of the program - about $1,000 to $1,500 - hasn't raised 
any concerns so far.

Like every policy, this one should be subject to review to determine its 
effectiveness, he said.

But with the district searching for a new superintendent and awaiting 
decisions in Salem that could affect the budget, the policy hasn't been a 
high priority, Burg said.

"I wouldn't say it is off the burner," he said. "Everything must be 
considered as an option."

At this point, Dunlap said, there are no proposals to kill drug testing in 
Butte Falls.

The district faces cutting $170,000 out of its $2.3 million budget.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager