Madison County school administrators are considering testing some students for drugs even if there is no reason to believe they are actually doing drugs. The school board held a public hearing on the topic at its meeting Monday night.
The students in question are student-athletes and if the proposed policy is approved, 20 percent of those athletes will be subject to random testing each year. The new policy would have student-athletes in sixth grade and up sign a pledge agreeing not to do drugs. But every person who addressed the school board Monday night is against the policy.
"It seems that the targeting done towards the athletes was not called for," said Alan Weakley, who attended the meeting.
There was unanimous disapproval among those who showed up for the public hearing, but Superintendent Matthew Eberhardt says the policy aims at being less punitive and helps kids get clean.
"We're hoping that it gives kids a reason to stay off drugs," he said.
But some maintain the policy is simply unfair.
"It's not just the athletes that are abusing them; it's illegal for everyone – faculty, staff, and the entire student body," Weakley said.
According to the proposed policy, students caught under the influence or with drugs would be suspended for 20 percent of athletics and referred to a drug assistance program. But some believe the policy shows clear discrimination.
"Everybody knows that we have a much higher percent of minority kids as athletes in our schools and to specifically drug-test athletes is outrageously racist," said Mary Grace, who attended the meeting.
Others say the time and money spent could be used elsewhere including prevention programs.
"The money that would go into the drug testing, that money could be used early on," said Mike Cashman, who attended the meeting.
Monday night was only a public hearing. The school board will take the feedback into consideration and is expected to vote on the policy in November.
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