October 14, 2013
The Madison County School Board is considering a policy that would subject student athletes to random drug tests.
The board held a public hearing on the matter Monday night. Many people in attendance suggested the proposed plan unfairly targets just one group of students.
"We should be inspiring our kids; not treating them like a bunch of drug thugs," said Madison County resident Steve Hawkins.
The policy states it is not about being academically punitive, but rather to ensure student health while participating in athletics. But some people think the proposal goes about it the wrong way.
"If illegal substances are being abused, it's not just the athletes who are going to be abusing them," said Madison County resident Alan Weakley. "They're illegal for everyone -- faculty, the staff, the entire student body."
Under the proposed policy, students and parents would sign a pledge program and agreement where the student pledges not to use drugs or alcohol.
Once they are on a team roster, middle and high school student athletes would be eligible to be randomly tested.
About one in five student athletes would be required to take a drug test each sports season.
A positive test could mean suspension from 20 percent of games for a first violation, to being permanently ineligible to play school sports after a fourth violation.
While most people agreed there should be efforts in place to prevent drug use, many at Monday's public hearing said random testing of athletes isn't it.
"If our kids are acting badly, then we need to address it whatever way we need to do it -- put them in drug programs," said Madison County resident Mary Grace. "But the idea of random drug testing, I think, is off base, very expensive and not always right."
Madison is not the only county to consider drug testing student athletes. In August, the Orange County School Board approved a similar program that also included students in extra-curricular activities.
The Madison County School Board is expected to vote on the policy in November.
To view the proposed policy, click HERE.