Pubdate: Wed, 07 Feb 2001
Source: Log Cabin Democrat (AR)
Copyright: The Log Cabin Democrat
Contact:  1058 Front Street, Conway, Arkansas    72032
Fax:  501-327-6787
Author: Joyce Bowers


 From Joyce Bowers, Greenbrier:

I recently moved back to Arkansas from Colorado. When I went to enroll my 
child in junior high, I received an unpleasant shock. My child cannot take 
choir classes at Greenbrier because I refuse to sign away my child's and my 
parental rights, and let the school district do random drug testing on my 
child so she can participate in extracurricular activities.

The repercussions of mistakes or mishandled information could destroy a 
child's reputation, career choices and even eliminate possibilities for the 
rest of their lives. Add to the factor that my child is on prescribed 
medication and is followed by her doctors closely, not to exclude being 
monitored by myself.

Superintendent Mike Mertens says I "have options": I either sign the paper 
work or do not. If I sign the consent paper my child can take choir, but if 
I don't sign she can't. I don't call that "options." To graduate from high 
school and to get entry into many colleges, these required electives or 
activities are needed for completion.

In Colorado she was in one of the largest mixed choirs in the eighth grade 
in the state. Her choir was going to Disneyland to compete and perform. She 
was expecting to be able to join Greenbrier's choir. My child's abilities 
and needs are not what matters in determining what classes she can 
take/needs, but what the current rule is.

This policy is depriving students from expanding their abilities and their 
education. Their parents are not allowed to choose to take a responsible 
and involved position with their own child's life. The superintendent says 
I am denying my child the ability to participate. Is this not the argument 
that is used by peers to do things wrong? "Try some and see how much better 
it makes you feel." "You're not wrong, you're parent is trying to prevent 
you from having fun." Have we not been fighting this attitude for years 
with our youth's peers, now it the school board?

If I sign the paper and my daughter's name comes up on their "random" list 
(and there is no limit on how many times your child could be chosen 
randomly), she is called out of class to report for testing. If the child 
cannot supply the required urine sample right away, the child is instructed 
to drink water and is to either walk or stay within an assigned area until 
the child can give a sample.

The system they are using is the "Dip Stick" method. This means there is no 
secure system after the student gives the sample.

There are many ways to contaminate a specimen when there is an open technique.

I spent the past five years working in the juvenile correctional systes and 
they couldn't even get the drug screening to be mandatory without a judge's 
order. Does my child have fewer rights than a "criminal?" It would seem so.

What surprises me the most is that Mr. Mertens continuously stated that I 
was the only parent who had a problem with this policy. This is a statement 
that I sincerely doubt. I am going to present my objection to the school 
board at 6 p.m. Thursday, and would like other parents who are concerned 
about this policy to come and voice their opinions. Most people I have 
talked to do not even understand that the group of youth being tested is 
the least likely to even use drugs.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart