Pubdate: Fri, 01 Feb 2008
Source: Huntsville Times (AL)
Copyright: 2008 The Huntsville Times
Author: Wendy Reeves
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Plan Doesn't Calm Objections To Random Test Proposal

MADISON - A voluntary drug testing policy is being considered by
Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler, who plans a presentation on the issue
for the school board next week.

Fowler said Thursday afternoon that the schools' policy committee met
to discuss a voluntary drug testing policy which would allow all
students in grades 7-12 to volunteer for a drug testing/screening program.

He said he will consider the voluntary option and a previously
proposed random drug testing policy which would affect middle and high
school students who participate in extracurricular activities or who
drive to school.

"I am considering all options," Fowler said. "However, I see many
benefits to this (voluntary) option."

The addition of a drug testing policy has stirred controversy in
Madison since it was introduced in November.

Some parents who were opposed to the initial proposal say they are
also against the voluntary proposal.

"It is not proven that testing works," said parent Rob Lemley. "Then,
there are the unintended harmful side effects, like kids turning to
other drugs that are not tested for."

Parent Dave Hergenroeder said if the new proposal is truly a voluntary
process, he believes it's a step in the right direction.

His wife, Melanie Hergenroeder doesn't necessarily

"Drugs are a problem in our society but, just like in the general
population where busting and incarcerating abusers is not a solution,
I don't think guilty-until-proven-innocent drug testing is the way to
go," Melanie Hergenroeder said. "When I first said something about
this issue I think people thought I'm pro drugs and I'm not. I just
don't see how this will help."

On the flip side, her husband said a voluntary program that the
parents can volunteer for is "a compromise that could give parents who
want that testing tool and answer those parents who are concerned
about privacy issues and false positives" on the tests.

"This is a controversial issue," Dave Hergenroeder said. "And I do
agree with my wife that drug testing is not a core competency issue
for the school system ... there are more effective ways to address
this issue."

Lemley said he's also concerned about what the drug testing policy
will teach children about the rule of law.

"This is teaching them to give up their rights," Lemley

Fowler said since he released the specifics of the revised random drug
testing policy two weeks ago, the overall response he's had has been
about 75 percent in favor of the plan and 25 percent against it.

"The ones who have been against it have done so in such a courteous
manner that their attitude made me want to respect their minority
rights," Fowler said.

He said the policy committee envisions the voluntary program as a
rewards-generated program, similar to one used by Auburn City Schools.

For example, he said all students who participate could receive
discounts to school activities and/or get discount cards from local
retailers that wished to be a part of the program.

"The policy is very clear in that only those that wish to participate
and had their parents' approval would be in the program," Fowler said.

He said once he's had time to thoroughly review the voluntary testing
proposal, he'll notify parents about the specifics of it through the
system's e-mail list-serve. It also will be posted on the system's Web

Fowler said regardless of which policy he recommends to the board, it
will involve a saliva test procedure.

"No local money will be used for this," Fowler said. "We will apply
for a federal grant to support the program. If the grant is not
awarded then the program will be put on hold until we can get the grant."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin