Pubdate: Sun, 04 Jul 2004
Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2004 The Fresno Bee
Author:  Jim Sanders


While Bush Pushes Such Efforts, Legislature May Ban Practice.

SACRAMENTO -- Even if Carl Santa Elena gets straight A's, he can't 
participate in Dixon High School sports unless he agrees to urinate in a 
jar upon demand.

Such policies have sparked a political fight in California, pitting 
anti-drug activists against civil libertarians.

At a time when President Bush is pushing to expand random student drug 
testing nationwide, state lawmakers may ban the practice.

Proponents hail random testing as a way to detect drug use before 
addiction, but critics call such programs an invasion of privacy.

Legislation to bar random testing, Senate Bill 1386, recently passed the 
state Senate -- 27-10 -- and is pending in the Assembly. Gov. 
Schwarzenegger has not yet taken a position on the bill.

Santa Elena -- an 18-year-old who has participated on tennis, cross country 
and other school teams -- doesn't object to random testing at his 
Sacramento-area school.

"I think most of the athletes in Dixon High don't really care whether they 
get tested," he said. "They know they shouldn't be using drugs."

But Andrew Bogue, 15, said the message he gets from the school's testing 
program is that students aren't totally trusted.

SB 1386 has largely split lawmakers along party lines, with most 
Republicans opposed.

The measure would require "reasonable suspicion" before schools could test 
a student for alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamines or other intoxicants.

Reasonable suspicion could not be based on rumor, hunch, race, religion, 
gender, sexual orientation or various other factors, including evidence of 
drug use among a student's family or peers.

Separate legislation to crack down on student use of steroids initially 
called for random tests but is being amended to require reasonable suspicion.

"When you begin to randomly test everyone, you tell young people that you 
are a criminal until proven otherwise," said Assembly Member Jackie 
Goldberg, a Los Angeles Democrat and a former high school teacher.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he considers random drug 
testing a violation of constitutional rights, despite U.S. Supreme Court 
rulings to the contrary.

Students are entitled to basic privacy protections and a prohibition on 
unreasonable searches and seizures, Lockyer said.

Critics of SB 1386 say that requiring reasonable suspicion will thwart 
prevention efforts by waiting until students display visible signs of 
intoxication before taking action.

"We should be moving toward a proactive approach instead of a reactive 
approach," said Assembly Member Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City.

The U.S. Supreme Court supported random testing of student athletes in a 
1995 ruling and expanded its approval to other extracurricular activities 
two years ago.

Bush, in his State of the Union Address, proposed spending an additional 
$23 million on random student testing nationwide.

Dr. Andrea Barthwell, deputy director of the Bush administration's Office 
of National Drug Control Policy, testified against SB 1386 at a recent 
legislative hearing.

Statistics are not readily available on the number of California school 
districts that require random drug tests in middle or high schools.
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