DRUG TESTING OF STUDENTS STANDS

November 21, 2000 11:00 pm

The Brookings-Harbor School Districts controversial policy of randomly drug testing student athletes will stand for now.

However, after listening to passionate arguments for against the policy on Monday, school board members said they may be willing to re-evaluate it.

Its important the board reassess a policy from time to time, especially one as sensitive as this, said Brian Larsson, chairman of the District 17-C school board. Other board members nodded in agreement.

Larsson continued, I dont want to change the policy right now, but perhaps we can evaluate it and come back with some suggestions before next year.

The other board members agreed, voting unanimously to continue the discussion until their Dec. 11 meeting, at which time they would consider establishing a committee of school officials, students and parents to review the drug testing policy.

School Board member Tom Davis said part of him supports those who oppose the policy, especially from a civil rights angle.

However, he said, Part of me, as a parent, says the policy is worth it if it saves just one child.

Davis suggested the board establish a review committee to determine if the policy is working, and if its what the community really wants.

However, some people questioned whether that was necessary, since a committee had reviewed the policy about three months ago. This caused Davis to step back from his suggestion and make a motion that the board give more thought to the issue before making a decision.

Opponents of the drug policy who spoke during the meeting seemed to be pleased the board had listened to their concerns.

Proponents were glad the policy remained intact, but were interested in determining whether the policy was working or not.

The school district implemented the policy nearly two years ago after teachers and students told the board there was a drug problem in the schools, Larsson said.

The board investigated various ways to stem the potential drug problem and ultimately passed the policy.

The committee of parents, teachers and students that reviewed the policy three months ago determined it was a viable solution, but made a few adjustments, such as getting the coaches more involved.

That still wasnt good enough for some who opposed the policy.

The policy is window dressing. It says were doing something while we are not, said parent Georgia Nowlin.

She added, Random suspicionless drug testing does not deal with the drug problems in our schools.

It may make for a relatively drug-free set of students in extracurricular activities, but they were probably that way anyway, she said. The negative costs of this program far outweigh any possible benefits.

Larsson reminded the audience that the districts policy is very lenient compared to other districts. I hope it is working, but is it?

Others echoes his sentiment.

Is it a success? That has not yet been determined, I dont know if it could be, Davis said.

Curriculum Director Tim Adsit said some answers may come with the conclusion of a state study currently being done on drug testing programs at other school districts.

Adsit said Dr, Lynn Goldberg, of Oregon Health Science University, has done a pilot study and is doing a larger one that includes 12 to 14 public schools throughout the state.