Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2009
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Adam Thompson
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


New Proposal to Include More Students

WATKINSVILLE - Oconee County school officials are holding back a
proposed drug-testing policy for high school athletes and drivers,
with plans to expand it to cover more after-school activities.

The Oconee County Board of Education was set to vote Monday on the new
policy but instead decided to consider it for another month, said
school board Chairman David Weeks.

"We want to expand the language and make sure, from a legal
standpoint, we're doing it right," he said.

Administrators at public schools around the country in recent years
have promoted random drug screening as a way to keep students safe.
However, the policies have been controversial for some students and
parents, who have challenged the policies in court.

A handful of area school districts, including the Commerce City School
System, already test some students for drugs.

Oconee school officials proposed their policy as a safety measure,
saying it would protect students from athletes and parking permit
holders who might get behind the wheel while under the influence.

But students participating in other after-school activities - marching
band members and FFA competitors, for example - also tend to drive or
operate heavy equipment, so the policy should cover them as well, Weeks said.

The policy, which would require students to submit to random drug
screens, could be expanded to include students in all after-school
activities, he said.

However, it's not likely officials would make all high school students
submit to the tests. Courts have upheld blanket drug-testing policies
as an invasion of privacy, Weeks said.

Oconee officials introduced the first version of their drug-testing
proposal in March and modeled it after policies in Morgan and Hall
counties. So far, only one parent has complained to the school board
about the Oconee policy, Weeks said.

Officials will introduce a new version of the policy early next month,
he said.

Under the first draft, students would have to sign a consent form for
the testing before participating in any Georgia High School
Association sport and as part of the parking permit

If a student were randomly selected, an administrator would "review
the student's class schedule to determine the least disruptive time to
remove the student from class for testing," according to the policy.

The student would have to give a urine sample, which would be tested
for amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine,
opiates and other painkillers.

Students who failed drug tests would be suspended from their
activities but not turned over to law enforcement, officials said.

First-time violators would have to enroll in drug counseling and sit
out 10 percent of their teams' regular season games - or, for drivers,
lose parking privileges for 18 days (10 percent of the school year).
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