Pubdate: Tue, 14 May 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Contact:  2002 The Decatur Daily
Author: Bayne Hughes
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


If Court Allows, Checks Could Start in October

If a case before the U.S. Su-preme Court stands up, Decatur high school 
students involved in "competitive" extracurricular activities could be 
facing random drug tests by October.

After 15 months of study, a committee proposed Monday evening at a Decatur 
City Board of Education work session a new policy, called TAD (Tobacco, 
Alcohol and Drug). It would test students for alcohol, marijuana, 
amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, steroids, tobacco and other substances.

Students would be suspended from all competitive activities for a positive 
test in an increasing degree with each infraction. Mandatory substance 
abuse counseling is required for each offense. Retests will be done at 
parents' expense. Each test costs $28.

"We want this to be a great deterrent to drug use," said Austin High School 
Principal Ed Nichols, chairman of the committee. "This is not a one-strike, 
two-strikes, and three-strikes-you're-out policy."

Nichols estimated about 1,200 students at Austin and Decatur high schools 
would be subject to the test, and about 50 percent would be tested at a 
cost of about $18,000. The test includes participants in athletics, band, 
chorus, ROTC drill team, forensics, scholars bowl and other competitive 
organizations. It does not include non-competitive clubs like science, 
Spanish, yearbook, etc.

The committee looked at drug-testing policies of Hoover, Arab, Muscle 
Shoals, Pell City and Mountain Brook.

School board member Dwight Jett, a member of the committee and a lawyer, 
said the committee is concerned about privacy, which will be a problem if a 
star athlete fails a test and is unable to play. The school system will 
hire a licensed drug-testing company and a medical review officer to 
administer the testing program.
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