Fight Over Mandatory Drug Tests

Fight Over Mandatory Drug Tests
Posted by FoM on February 04, 2000 at 08:07:32 PT
By Pam Easton, Associated Press Writer
Source: Star Tribune
Larry Tannahill has spent his life working the land in west Texas, where livestock and agriculture dominate the economy. His roots are deep and so are his convictions. Tannahill is refusing to allow his 12-year-old son, Brady, to be tested for drugs by the Lockney Independent School District. Mandatory testing for the district' s teachers and 400 students in grades 6 through 12 was completed Thursday. 
Brady, the only holdout, now faces the same punishment as someone who tested positive: a 21-day suspension from extracurricular activities, at least three days' in-school suspension and three sessions of substance abuse counseling. The sixth-grader also could be required to take a drug test every month for a year. Each time he refuses, he will be considered a repeat offender, and the punishment gets more strict. Tannahill planned to appeal his son' s suspension. " My son is an A and B student, " he said, standing outside the rural Lutheran church he attends, amid miles of farm land. " He' s never been in trouble and right now they are saying he' s guilty. " I know everybody is wanting the best for their children and I want the best for mine. But I also feel like we are being violated and dictated to. I' ve had a gut full of it and I' m going to make a stand." Superintendent Raymond Lusk said the community supports the policy, which had been discussed since 1997, when 13 people in the town of 2, 243 were indicted for distributing and using cocaine and marijuana. " If the school determines this is what we think we need to do to provide an optimum education then that is what we need to do, " he said. He said the school board decided, after a series of community meetings, to require tests of everyone because it seemed unfair to single out students enrolled in extracurricular activities. " I think it' s an excellent policy, " said Bobby Hall, a business professor at Wayland Baptist University who has a daughter in the Lockney district. " I, for one, would like to know if my children were involved in drugs because it gives you a chance for intervention." " And if you do it across the board it' s fair for everybody, " added his wife, Laurie. Lockney High School senior Adam Pachiano, who took the urine drug test Tuesday, said his parents were upset but gave their consent to keep him from facing penalties. " School is not an extracurricular activity. You have to go, " the 18-year-old said. " A lot of parents didn' t want it to happen, but they didn' t want to fight it. They just did it to keep us out of trouble." Lockney, about an hour' s drive northeast of Lubbock, is the second school in the area to implement mandatory testing. School officials in Sundown, about 75 miles away, say their policy is effective and supported in the community. Graham Boyd, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union' s national drug policy project, said he is unaware of any other school district in the country that requires across-the board testing. " I find it very hard to believe people are doing this, " Boyd said. " This is literally the first school I have ever heard of doing this and I really wonder why they think this is OK." Boyd said cases challenging school drug testing for students in extracurricular activities have been filed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and in Texas, where state Education Agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said state officials have no jurisdiction over local drug testing policies. Rodrick Schoen, a retired constitutional law and public education law professor from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, said he is appalled by Lockney' s policy. " I admire Mr. Tannahill for resisting this on principle, " Schoen said. " The Supreme Court has never held that just because a child is enrolled in a public school that they are to be subjected to these unconstitutional seizures of their urine." Lusk said the mandatory tests, followed up with random testing of 10 percent of the students and faculty each month, give students a reason to decline peer pressure to use drugs. " If it' s the right thing to do, you don' t let the threat of someone suing you stop you, " Lusk said. Tannahill said he' s worried about the consequences his son faces simply for standing up for his rights. " I just wonder where all the children' s rights are and the parents' rights are, " Tannahill said. " Right now in Lockney ISD, the parents and the children don' t have any on this issue." Lockney, Texas (AP) Published: Febriuary 4, 2000Copyright 2000 Associated Press. Related Articles:Cannabis News Drug Testing Archives: News Drug Testing Search & Articles:
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Comment #2 posted by Alexandre Oeming on February 04, 2000 at 12:12:02 PT:
Uckin'-Fay, Puritan
You got a spot-on match, Puritan. I sure hope ole Lusk is willing to bend over and pee on demand, too, because he hasn't defended his students' rights, so he better be prepared when they don't come to bat for him. When do all Americans (short of the politicians of course ... they're already exempt b/c they're too pure or something) have to do this to "discourage" illicit drug consumption? Man, as a culture, we Americans are sure backward. We can't even see a few moves ahead in the game!
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Comment #1 posted by Puritan on February 04, 2000 at 09:45:22 PT
At what point do we begin testing everyone????At what point do we begin arresting those who simply disagree with our current drug policy?? It can happen!
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