Sunday, August 8, 2004

Walton-Verona families laid back about drug testing

Opponent says parents should consider drawbacks

By Karen Gutierrez
Enquirer staff writer

WALTON - It's not easy to get people riled up about drug testing at Walton-Verona High School, a national organization says.

The Washington-based Students for Sensible Drug Policy has been contacting educators and families in the Walton-Verona School District, where the board is considering random drug testing of student athletes.

The organization lobbies against such policies, saying they are intrusive, ineffective and costly. But in Walton, parents and students haven't seemed to care much, legislative director Ross Wilson said.

"There is a tendency for parents to think, 'My student doesn't do drugs, and I want to prove to everyone that I have a good kid,'" said Wilson, who has talked to six or seven families so far.

But they should at least consider some of the drawbacks, he said.

Students taking legal, prescription drugs would have to reveal them to school authorities, Wilson said. The intrusiveness of the tests may discourage some students from playing sports. And there's a contradiction, he argued, between having students urinate into a cup and teaching them that the Fourth Amendment protects against searches without cause.

"I just want to make sure everyone has the facts before they make this decision," said Wilson, who grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from St. Xavier High School.

Under the Walton-Verona measure, to be discussed again by the School Board on Aug. 18, about 290 athletes in the seventh through twelfth grades would be required to pass a test for illegal, recreational drugs before participating in sports. They also would face random testing during their seasons.

School Board Chairman Bill Wethington could not be reached for comment.

Superintendent Bill Boyle said all of Wilson's points had already come up as school officials worked on the policy. The board is mulling the issues this month and may ask for changes, Boyle said.

The idea behind the drug testing is to help students resist peer pressure and quash unfounded rumors about drug use, high-school principal Mark Krummen said. Students and parents have applauded the idea, he said.

When it came up for an initial vote at the School Board's July 27 meeting, no members of the public were present.



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