Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jul 2006
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Belleville News-Democrat
Author: Elizabeth Donald
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Youth)


School Board OKs Random Screenings

Collinsville High School athletes will be subject to random drug
testing, a first for the district.

The Unit 10 school board voted 5-1 to approve random screenings for
drug use by high school athletes at its meeting Monday. At the cost of
about $1,200 a year, to be paid out of drink-machine funds, about 16
students per season will be randomly selected by a computer for
mandatory testing.

Athletes sign a code of conduct at the beginning of the year promising
that they will abstain from drugs and alcohol. Failing the screening
would be a violation of the code, which carries lesser penalties than
the regular discipline rules: the athlete would be suspended from the
team but not from school, and he would have a chance at

Athletic Director Bob Hollingshead said he has had eight athletes come
up for hearings on drug and alcohol use in the last year. "When I go
to the drug and alcohol meeting with the parents ... they basically
try to find a way out of the rules," he said. "I'm trying to find
another method of preventing our athletes from doing these illegal

The screenings will test for illegal drugs and certain steroids and
performance enhancers. Hollingshead said he hopes the athletes will be
able to use the random screenings as a reason to fend off peer pressure.

But board member Gary Kusmierczak said he thought random testing is
"very intrusive" and "excessive."

"I think you're isolating a class of students, testing them but not
the rest of the student body," said Kusmierczak, who cast the lone
dissenting vote.

Kusmierczak said although the board policy is to use measures "up to"
expulsion to deal with drug and alcohol use, they typically use a
zero-tolerance approach he calls "draconian" and go immediately to

Other board members disagreed. "I'd like to see (testing) go further
than athletics," said board member William Jokerst, stating that
Peoria schools test all students who participate in any
extracurricular activities.

"We have (a drug problem), whether we like it or not," Jokerst said.
"Even if it stopped only one person, it'd be worth it."

New high school Principal Eric Flohr's previous high school also had a
random-testing policy, and Superintendent Dennis Craft said he
supports it.

The policy goes into effect this coming school year.

Board member Theresa Billy was absent from the meeting.
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