Hoover schools start drug tests

Spain Park joins the rest of the high schools in Shelby County in a new policy that allows random drug testing of any students parking on campus.

The Hoover City Board of Education passed the resolution Monday, May 21 with a 3-2 vote.

&8220;I think it&8217;s a good thing for kids. It&8217;s another deterrent to them,&8221; said board member A.W. Bolt. &8220;They value the privilege of driving very, very highly and don&8217;t want to do things to cost them that privilege.&8221;

Similar to the policy that exists for student athletes, school officials will be able to test those with parking permits to determine the presence of 10 different drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and even cotinine, a nicotine indicator.

Students testing positive will lose parking privileges for 45 days for their first offense, 60 for the second. Participating in a counseling program can reduce that time. Students committing a third offense lose parking privileges for the remainder of the year.

Under a slightly stricter policy set in place by Shelby County Schools four years ago, students lose parking privileges for a minimum of seven weeks or until they complete a substance abuse program, said Donna Dickson, student services coordinator. Students lose parking privileges completely after only a second offense.

Dickson said in the 2005-2006 school year, of the system&8217;s 6,000 students, about 4,700 were randomly chosen, and 26 of those tested positive.

Along with Bolt, Donna Frazier and Suzy Baker voted in favor of Hoover&8217;s policy. Tom Defnall, who said he thought some sort of random drug-testing policy was OK, voted against the one proposed because it allows for students to be tested both as athletes and drivers. &8220;Once is enough,&8221; he said.

Bill Veitch, the other opposer, spoke passionately against the policy, citing multiple concerns, including what he feels are the proper roles of parents and educators.

&8220;I send my kids to the school to be educated, not drug tested. I would like our schools to get back in the business of educating,&8221; Veitch said. &8220;I don&8217;t want schools taking the place of parents.&8221;

Baker disagreed, saying, &8220;If nothing else, we are supporting what most parents are telling their kids.&8221; Her son, a basketball and football player at Spain Park, was tested as an athlete last year.

She said people may say she doesn&8217;t know what her teenager is doing, but she tells them, &8220;At least I know from that test what he&8217;s not doing.&8221;

The new policy takes effect for Hoover City Schools this fall. Student permits will go up $5 to cover the drug test costs.

Since Shelby County Schools began randomly testing student drivers, Dickson said she&8217;s faced no opposition.

&8220;Some of the parents may not agree with it, and they just choose for their children not to drive. They just accept that,&8221; she said. &8220;The majority of the parents in our school system approve that we do this. I&8217;ve had far more positive than negative.&8221;