Pubdate: Sat, 04 Feb 2006
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2006 Amarillo Globe-News
Authors: Paige Dickerson, and Brenda Bernet
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Many Panhandle school districts have implemented drug-testing 
programs to give students a reason to say no, officials said, but 
some school districts faced challenges.

The drug-testing programs in Farwell Independent School District and 
Tulia Independent School District were challenged in lawsuits years 
ago. In the Tulia case, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of 
the families, but the judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2002 following a 
U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld drug testing in a similar 
Oklahoma case. The U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way for 
more school districts to start drug-testing programs.

Random drug-testing for students in extracurricular activities at 
Friona Independent School District recently was approved by the 
school board, but officials are still working out the details. The 
testing program could be implemented sometime this spring.

Dalhart Independent School District began a random drug-testing 
program this year for students in junior high and high school 
involved in all extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

"We had some teachers that felt they had some kids that were under 
the influence of meth," said Dalhart Superintendent David Foote. 
Twice a month, 10 percent of seventh-through 12th-grade students take 
a drug test, and some of those students also are tested for alcohol. 
Four students have tested positive for drug use this year, Foote 
said. "It's a great idea, even if it deters one kid," said Joe 
Garcia, president of the Dalhart All Sports Booster Club. "It's money 
well spent." Tulia High School Principal Bobby Hudson said the random 
drug-testing program works. He knows of students who were caught 
using drugs as freshmen. They continued to be tested and received 
counseling. "They'll come back clean," he said. "Their grades 
improve, and they're able to graduate."

In addition to students in extracurricular activities, Tulia tests 
students on a voluntary basis as decided by their parents. Of the 335 
students at Tulia High School, about 320 students are subject to 
random drug-testing, which occurs six times a year. Typically, at 
least one student will be found positive for drug use during each 
testing period, Hudson said. "There is a drug problem," Hudson said. 
"We know that it's here. We feel strongly that the program has worked."

But Alan Bean and his son were among parents opposed to the idea. 
Alan Bean unsuccessfully sued the Tulia school district in 2001 on 
behalf of his son, who was a sophomore at the time and has since 
graduated. "He wasn't concerned about his own drug use," Alan Bean 
said. "It was the principle of the thing."

For Alan Bean, what happens outside of the school day is a parent's 

"I trust him; why don't you?" Bean said. Alan Bean said some families 
opposed to random drug-testing in Tulia have transferred their 
children to other school districts, and the drug-testing program has 
prompted some students to drop out of extracurricular activities 
rather than face a drug test.

Some schools have begun to implement completely voluntary testing 
programs, with rewards for students who remain drug-free.

Michelle George had some concerns when her daughter Krissy said she 
would sign up for a program at Highland Park High School.

George talked to her daughter to make sure she understood the 
program, and George learned more about it from school officials. 
Krissy already has taken a drug test and was found to be drug-free.

"Did you pass?" George said she asked her daughter that day. Her 
daughter responded, "Why would you be in this program if you would do 
drugs or alcohol?"

George says the program gives her some comfort, and she is glad her 
daughter has a choice.

Highland Park's D-FY-IT, which sounds like "Defy It," is modeled 
after the program, which stands for Drug Free Youth in Texas, at 
Canyon High School in the 2004-05 school year. CISD's program has 
attracted about 500 students, said Cody Jones, liaison officer at 
Canyon High School. Canyon High students will present the program to 
a statewide group for safe and drug-free schools Feb. 12-14.

"The students get a card and they can show it at different businesses 
and they get a discount," Jones said.

In addition to community support, CISD also has received a grant used 
to buy program incentives, including DVD players and iPODs. Randall 
High School also has started the program. Students who test positive 
do not face legal or academic repercussions, but they are removed 
from the drug-free programs.

Amarillo Independent School District currently has no random 
drug-testing program.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom