Pubdate: Sun, 28 Apr 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author:  Deangelo McDaniel
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Youth)


If the primary goal of a drug policy is to punish, it's a bad policy, 
Austin High School Principal Ed Nichols said.

Nichols is chairman of the 21-person committee that wrote the proposed 
policy for Decatur City Schools.

"We looked at policies from several school systems and the design of our 
policy is for safety and to help the kids who test positive," Nichols said.

Only two school systems in the area -- Lawrence and Limestone counties -- 
have random drug-testing policies for students who primarily participate in 

Decatur and Hartselle school systems are considering adopting policies.

What If Result Positive?

"One of the biggest things we talked about was what to do after we have a 
positive test," Decatur board member Dwight Jett Jr. said.

Limestone County has one of the most aggressive drug-testing programs in 
the state. All of the student-athletes are drug-tested at least once, but a 
positive test does not mean the end of athletic participation.

Donnie Powers supervises the testing program for the Limestone County Board 
of Education. He said the school system administers the first test in July.

"All of the kids who are participating in fall activities like football, 
volleyball and cheerleading are tested," he said.

The laboratory conducts the test at each school site. Limestone County has 
six high schools. The board administers the second test in October for 
athletes who participate in the winter and spring sports.

"The names of the students are put on a random-testing list," Powers said. 
"We test two athletes from each school each month."

Suspension Required

The policy says that if any student tests positive, the principal must 
suspend him or her from competition for the remainder of the school year.

"This is not a permanent ban," Powers said. "We recommend that the student 
enroll in a rehabilitation center, at their expense, for nine weeks."

The student must pass a drug test before returning to athletic competition 
in the Limestone County system.

Decatur's proposed policy is not as strict. Nichols said the school will 
suspend a first-time offender from competition until the athlete passes a 
drug test.

"We do this because of potential liability," he said. "If we know that a 
kid has tested positive and we allow that kid to play, we are putting not 
only the school system, but the child, at risk."
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