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TROUBLED TEENS WILL NOT LOSE DRIVER'S LICENSES

A proposal to tie driving privileges to school attendance was rejected Monday night by the Brookings-Harbor School Board.

And with the vote came at least one board members willingness to revisit the districts random drug testing policy.

I question the validity of this sort of thing, said Board Member Tom Davis. Im a great believer in tools, but I think sometimes we tool ourselves to death.

The proposed policy followed a new state law that would allow school districts to request that the state suspend driving privileges for students who bring a weapon onto school property, are suspended or expelled from school twice for violent behavior, or drop out of school.

Our goal is not taking away the driving privileges, said Superintendent Dr. Paul Prevenas. The goal is getting these students to come to school. As a society, we have an obligation to encourage students to get skills they need to succeed in life and be productive.

Brookings-Harbor High School Principal Dr. Floyd Strandberg said the option to suspend driving privileges in the wake of violent behavior was already part of school policies.

This will not keep students in school and it wont keep them from driving, argued Board Member Mary Van Hoesen. This does not affect students ability to learn.

The only statement from the public on the topic came from Chris Miller, who told the board the police sends the wrong message to kids, it leads them to believe theyre in a police state.

This board has asked students to make certain changes, Board Chair Brian Larsson responded. The reason is not to be a police state, but because we want a positive learning environment for our kids.

Davis, Van Hoesen and Larsson voted to reject the policy. Board Member Jeanne Sever, after stating she wanted to table the proposal, voted against rejection. Board Member Mary Anderson was absent.

Davis remarks about the random drug testing policy were tied to a statement from parent Dannette Gwin, who said her daughter Britt has been suspended from the varsity spirit squad after refusing to take a random drug test in late September.

She had earlier attached a letter of protest about the drug-testing policy to her application forms for participation.

Why are students at BHHS viewed as possible criminals, guilty until they prove their innocence? Gwin asked. Why are they not given even basic civil rights guaranteed them by ... the Oregon Bill of Rights?

Gwin said she stands by her daughters contention that the drug testing violates Oregon law, and she attached a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union taking the same stance.

We wanted to let you know that under the Oregon Constitution, we believe your policy is unconstitutional and we urge you to discontinue suspicionless drug testing immediately, wrote Oregon ACLU Executive Director David Fidanque.

The audience, including several Azalea Middle School students, applauded Gwins statement. The board members, other than Davis comment about revisiting the policy during the driving privileges discussion, made no comment to Gwin.

In another discussion of student behavior during the meeting, Van Hoesen applauded actions taken by Strandberg at last weeks homecoming bonfire to curtail vulgar language by shutting off the power to the sound system, and scolded adults who failed to back his actions.

Strandberg said his action was greeted by vulgar chants from the bonfire crowd, including adults.

I want to commend Dr. Strandberg for stepping forward and being the principal we hired him to be, Van Hoesen said. I think we need some apologies from parents and staff who failed to support him.

I second your opinion on the apologies, Davis added, saying he hoped the incident did not reflect what this community expects its moral conduct to be.

In other action Monday night, the board:

Heard a report from the Schools Designed for Learning Committee about its campaign for the districts bond proposal. (See separate story.)

Received its annual audit report with the highest level opinion on the districts financial statements.

Heard from Prevenas that he expects a coalition of school districts to form to lobby the state legislature for direct pass-through of federal funding for schools approved by Congress this month.

Approved two overnight field trips for Azalea Middle School students, one based in science and technology to Seattle in January and one based in Oregon history to Klamath Falls in June.

Approved the use of a district bus to take students to the Medford airport for the annual Washington, D.C., field trip over spring break.

Approved the purchase of a new 72-passenger bus for about $76,000, trading in a 1978 bus from the fleet.

Accepted grant funds provided through the South Coast Education Service District to hire an instructional assistant in the high school resource room.

Reappointed Tom Kerr, the only applicant, to the districts budget committee.

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