Pubdate: Fri, 12 Dec 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Deangelo McDaniel
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: ( Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Could Be Prerequisite For Students Wanting To Obtain Parking Permits

HARTSELLE - The Hartselle Board of Education might expand its drug-testing 
program to include students who park vehicles on campus.

"I want y'all to think about this, but I'd like to expand the drug testing 
to include anyone who drives a car," Superintendent Lee Hartsell said at 
Thursday's meeting.

He added: "There is very little that I would change about our policy 
because it is a good one. But I know systems that have included students 
that drive to school."

The board did not vote, but unanimously agreed to look at requiring 
students with parking permits to take drug tests before acquiring the permit.

The committee that drafted Hartselle's extracurricular drug-testing policy 
in May 2002 wanted to include students with parking permits. But it was 
unclear at that time whether the system could legally test these students.

In a 5-4 decision in June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for 
school systems to test students who drive vehicles to school.

The court's ruling, in part, said that the school system's desire to 
eliminate drugs on campus outweighed any student's right to privacy.

"I'm pleased that the superintendent would want to take (drug testing) the 
extra step," board member Jeff Gray said. "A couple of years ago this was 
like an elephant on the plate and we were looking at how to eat it."

Hartselle already has one of the most inclusive drug-testing programs in 
the state. Any student who participates in an extracurricular activity is 
subject to drug testing. About 70 percent of Hartselle's students 
participate in some kind of activity.

Hartsell said including students with parking permits would increase the 
number of students in the random pool.

"I feel strongly about doing this," the superintendent told the board.

Hartsell said students persuaded him to expand drug testing after the 
school system's testing company spoke to the student body in August.

"The kids said they all needed to be included," he said. "We may have 
students who don't want to participate. If so, they just won't drive to 

"Can we do this for qualification for a parking permit?" board member Susan 
Puckett asked.

"Absolutely," board Chairman Ronnie Abercrombie responded.

He said several systems in the state already test students with parking 

Puckett suggested that the board increase the cost of parking permits to 
defray some of the added expenses.

In a related move, the school system will consider a voluntary drug-testing 
program for seventh-graders.

Abercrombie said some systems in the state allow parents to pay to have 
their seventh-graders tested.

"It's strictly voluntary and it's worked well in several other systems," he 

One of the goals is to allow students to show that they are drug-free and 
set an example for other students, Abercrombie said.

The board said any changes to its drug-testing policy would not be made 
until next year.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman