School board approves drug testing to park

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Over the objection of at least one parent, the Shelby County Board of Education recently approved a student parking privilege substance abuse policy and selected a drug test provider.

In the absence of board member Allen Rice, the 4-0 vote to approve a random drug test policy for students parking on school campuses came at the board’s regular June 10 meeting.

Voting in favor of the policy were board president Dr. Lee Doebler, board

vice president Steve Martin and board members Trey Ireland and Peg Hill.

According to an overview of the policy approved:

&uot;It is the objective of the Shelby County Board of Education to assure that all students who wish to take advantage of the privilege of driving a vehicle on school property and parking a vehicle on school property be given the opportunity to do so in a safe, drug free environment, and that all students exercising the privilege of driving and parking on school property, be completely free of the effects of alcohol, and/or the presence of other illegal or controlled substances.

&uot;In an effort to meet this objective, the board reserves the right to require any student desiring to drive a vehicle on school property and park on school property, be subject to and submit to random drug tests at any time while on school property, or participating in school sponsored events.&uot;

The board also voted 4-0 to continue its contract with Business Health Assessment for another year to provide all student drug testing at a cost of $15.50 per test.

Present to speak against the policy was Michele Zaragoza of Birmingham, who had written a letter expressing her objections to the board prior to the meeting.

Zaragoza stated that no letter was sent home with her daughter about the policy coming before the board.

She said her daughter does not participate in athletics or cheerleading at Oak Mountain High School, but she did not oppose drug tests of athletes or cheerleaders because the school system is responsible for those students off the school campus.

Zaragoza called a required waiver parents would be required to sign allowing urine, breath, hair and/or blood samples

&uot;an instrument of probable abuse.&uot;

As in her letter, she objected to blood samples being taken by persons with less than minimal nursing training.

She further

expressed the view that as a taxpayer and parent, her daughter should be able to park at a tax paid facility without having to take a mandatory drug test.

Speaking for the test was Board Chief Clerk Sharon Lee, a parent of five children in the Shelby County School System.

She said, &uot;We have drugs in our schools.&uot;

Lee said she wanted to commend the board for doing what it could to prevent and discourage drugs in schools.

Ireland called the policy &uot;another reason to say no&uot; to drugs.

Dr. Doebler expressed concern for a red flag raised by Zaragoza over blood tests.

However, School Superintendent Evan Major responded: &uot;Under no circumstances will blood be drawn by a person not qualified.&uot;

He said he did not know of an occasion in which blood was taken but said it would be done at a clinic by medical personnel.

Student Services Coordinator Ken Mobley said parents would be notified.

While Major confirmed that random drug testing has been upheld by the Supreme Court, he reminded the public that as an alternative to parking on school campus, school buses run every day