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By Staff
Education, not testing, is top job
Editor,
I have been watching, listening and reading about the story of the boys who collapsed at school, were tested for drugs and had their bags and lockers searched while they were at the hospital. Apparently, the search for drugs at school or evidence of such was non-existent. The drug tests showed that one student had smoked marijuana at some point prior to the test. The other student's drug test was clear. It seems easy to draw the conclusion that marijuana was not the cause of their collapse.
Some complain that we didn't already have a drug testing policy in place. I believe it has been reported that Hartselle's school board looked into developing a drug policy last year, but that due to state proration and the additional cut of school funds from the City of Hartselle, it was thought that a policy could wait until more funds were available. Education, not drug testing, is the main job of the school system.
With no evidence of drug use or abuse at school, what could the school system have legally done? Someone please explain how the school board or any other school official could have handled the situation any differently or any better.
When faced with the March 4 situation, the board's response was to begin the process of developing a random-drug testing policy for students involved in extracurricular activities so that there would be a mechanism for disciplining a student in a similar situation in the future. This response, I understand, was made before there was any public questioning of the incident by the council.
As for Dr. Hartsell's statements to the press, it seems that he answered that question when he was asked in April. He said that his statement about the result of the drug test was qualified. He said that when he spoke with members of the press, he told them that relative to the collapse of the students at the high school, the drug tests were negative. Since the information about marijuana use was not relevant to the situation at school, I don't think that he was intending to suppress the truth or mislead the public as members of the council have alleged.
I have two children in the Hartselle school system. If either child collapsed at school under similar circumstances, I would appreciate it if someone would either call an ambulance or transport him for medical treatment. If there were a possibility that drugs were the cause of the collapse, I would appreciate knowing that as a parent. But if the drug test was clear, you'd better believe that I would have something to say if the school attempted to punish my child for passing out at school for unknown reasons. How could school officials have done anything more than what was done? Further investigation of the incident and any punishment should come from the parents of the children involved.
I think the issue of a drug policy for Hartselle's school system is important and is currently being addressed. Time to put this incident behind us and move forward. We have learned a lot over the last several weeks. Let's use what we have learned to improve our city and our school system and make our schools better and safer for our children.
Anne Burleson
Decatur

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