Pubdate: Tue, 04 Nov 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


HARTSELLE - The Hartselle Board of Education's less than 2-year-old student 
drug-testing policy has received its first legal challenge.

Hartselle attorney Jerry Roberts is charging in a motion for emergency 
relief that no individual in the school system can suspend a student from 
participating in extracurricular activities.

"The board as a whole is the only body that can take this action," he said.

Roberts filed the motion in Morgan County Circuit Court after the school 
system apparently told student Adam Faulk he could not participate in 
Hartselle's Oct. 31 football game with Lawrence County High School.

Morgan County Circuit Judge Sherrie Paler approved the motion.

"Defendants are enjoined from suspending plaintiff Adam Faulk from 
participation in school and extracurricular activities," Paler wrote in her 

Superintendent Lee Hartsell said Faulk, a sophomore, played in Friday's game.

Decatur attorney Bill Shinn represents the school system. Shinn said he 
would file a response this week asking the judge to dissolve the injunction.

Paler said she granted the motion, in part, because of what happened at 
Hartselle High on Oct. 27.

According to court records, the school system's drug-testing company 
selected Faulk to be tested.

Roberts said his client suffered an asthma attack on the same day and was 
"suffering from the flu that was sweeping through the student body." He 
said the school nurse called the student's mother and told her to pick up 
her son. Roberts said drug-testing coordinator Franklin Penn considered 
Faulk's illness a valid reason for missing the drug test. He said Penn 
agreed to put Faulk on the next testing date.

The attorney said his client was not able to give a urine sample Monday 
because he was dehydrated.

EDPM of Birmingham does drug testing for the Hartselle system. The company 
tested students Monday and Tuesday.

Hartsell declined to comment when asked if the school system at anytime got 
a specimen from Faulk.

Roberts alleged in court papers that board chairman Ronnie Abercrombie 
"acted unilaterally and decreed that Faulk had violated the policy."

He said Abercrombie made the decision to suspend Faulk from athletic 

Roberts said he talked with Abercrombie on Thursday "in an attempt to 
settle this matter amicably."

He said Abercrombie refused to settle the situation.

Abercrombie admitted that there was a telephone conversation with Roberts, 
but said that the board chairman can not settle anything "on his own."

"Being board chairman has added responsibility, but no added authority," 
Abercrombie said. "I can't speak for the entire board or settle anything 
for the board."

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2002 that school systems could 
drug test students, Hartselle implemented one of the broadest student 
drug-testing programs in the area.

Students who participate in extracurricular activities, must sign a consent 
form saying that they will comply with the policy.

Any student who refuses to comply with the policy is disqualified from 
athletic and extracurricular activities.

The policy also allows the school system to disqualify a student from 
participation if the parent or guardian checks the student out of school on 
the day that the testing company selects the student for a random drug test.

Roberts states in his complaint that the mother took Faulk out of school, 
but only because of his illness.

Paler said the school system could not ban Faulk from any extracurricular 
activities until the board gives the plaintiffs a hearing at its next meeting.

The board meets Thursday night in its central office on College Street. 
Hartsell said the family has requested a hearing.
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