Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Legislature Might Make Suzy Pee in a Cup to Sing in the School Choir

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge oie_drug_test.jpg
Our state lawmakers are true champions of the Second Amendment, but they're a little sketchy on the rest of the Bill of Rights. For instance, no one cares much for that pesky Fourth Amendment. There's a bill to authorize school boards to force all students to undergo random drug tests to participate in extracurricular activities. So if little Suzy wants to sing in the school choir, she'll have to pee in a cup first to prove she's not shooting up heroin in her spare time. The ACLU is against this bill, which almost guarantees its passage. Tennessee law already allows drug testing of students when there's a reasonable suspicion that the student may have used or be under the influence of drugs. Deciding whether there's a reasonable suspicion is too much trouble for many schools, and they're clamoring for the right to demand their students' pee just in case. Here's the ACLU's "action alert" on this bill: LEGISLATIVE ALERT ATTACK ON STUDENTS' PRIVACY RIGHTS: RANDOM DRUG TESTING OPPOSE SB1792 (Herron)/HB2026 (Maddox) and SB74 (Tracy)/HB1508 (Winningham) What SB1792/HB2026 and SB74/HB1508 do - These bills authorize school boards to implement random drug testing policies for all students who participate in voluntary extracurricular activities. ACLU of Tennessee opposes these bills because: Random drug testing in schools has been proven to be ineffective in deterring drug use among young people. A national study on student drug testing published in the April 2003 Journal of School Health found no difference in rates of drug use between schools with drug testing programs and those without. Extracurricular activities are a proven means of helping students stay out of trouble with drugs. However, random drug testing may prevent some students from participating in these activities because of the embarrassment of the drug test and the possibility of false positives. Additionally, after school programs provide students who are experimenting with or misusing drugs with productive activities and contact with trusted adults and peers who can help them identify and address problematic drug use. Random drug testing in schools has a negative impact on the school environment by undermining relationships of trust between students and teachers, coaches and administrators. Random drug testing can create an atmosphere of "us v. them," with students no longer feeling like they can confide in those who are also policing them. Random drug testing infringes upon students' privacy rights. In order to eliminate tampering with the sample, the bill requires that a witness be present when the student is creating the sample. In addition, in order to ensure against the possibility of false positives, schools often ask students to identify their prescription medications before taking a drug test. Many schools that have implemented random drug testing policies have not taken the proper measures to protect this private information. Additionally, students who are suddenly suspended from activities have the stigma of being drug users, whether they are or not. Tennessee already has a law allowing student drug testing of public high school students when there is reasonable suspicion that the student may have used or be under the influence of drugs. There is no need for additional laws. What you can do: Call your state senator and house representative and ask them to Vote NO on these bills.

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