Pubdate: Thu, 23 Aug 2001
Source: Kingsport Times-News (TN)
Copyright: 2001 Kingsport Publishing Corporation
Author: Amanda Davis
Note:  Will not publish letters in print editions from online users 
who do not reside in print circulation area, unless they are former 
residents or have some current connection to Southwest Virginia and 
Northeast Tennessee.
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


I attended a very poorly conducted meeting Aug. 6 at Sullivan Central 
concerning the Sullivan County drug testing policy for the 2001-2002 
school year. Central's principal/athletic director, David H. Ward was 
in charge of explaining the new policy, as well as the testing 
procedure student-athletes are expected to undergo if participating 
in sports in the county. Very little information actually regarding 
the county's drug testing policy was clearly explained, and the 
majority of the meeting was spent by Mr. Ward explaining how the 
county chose the least expensive of the four possible vendors to 
administer the test.

During the question session of the meeting, Mr. Ward assured those in 
attendance that other school systems in the area were testing their 
student-athletes. When asked to provide rationale for our county 
following suit, Mr. Ward was unable to give clear reasons, stating he 
did not create the policy, he merely reviewed it. Where were the 
taxpayers, the ultimate funders of these tests, when this policy was 
being created? Where were the school board representatives Monday 
night when concerned parents were trying to understand the need, the 
accuracy and the legality of such tests?

As a former student in this school system, and as a present educator, 
I also wonder why we have chosen to discriminate against one portion 
of our student body. Why have athletes been singled out? Various 
studies show that student-athletes are often highly motivated young 
people. People who are high achieving, intrinsic learners, and who 
successfully divide their time between schoolwork and sports. While I 
am aware that drug use among school age children is a fact, I believe 
we are focusing too much on a group less likely than some others to 
use illegal drugs. When will we test the drama students, band members 
or honor roll kids? Will the AP students be tested before or after 
their exams?

Monday's meeting points out several disturbing facts. The principal 
was unprepared for the meeting, the school board is uncaring of their 
constituents' concerns and those attending displayed their 
frustration by walking out of the meeting. The walkout, was, in fact, 
an extremely poor method of demonstrating our views; however, are the 
students and parents not entitled to concise and accurate 
explanations to their questions before testing? I suggest the school 
board educate Mr. Ward on its standing policy, so he may in turn give 
the parents and athletes accurate answers in the future, his frequent 
"I don't know" is just unsatisfactory.

Amanda Davis

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