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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Student athletes in an Oregon school district must submit to drug tests this year, a proposal that began at the urging of the students themselves.
The South Lane School Board has approved a plan to test every student athlete at least once per season, with random tests also administered. The Junction City School District has adopted a similar plan.
Students who fail three tests will be removed from the teams. In South Lane, the district athletes' council put forward the idea in May, the Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/YrKal1 ).
The athletes recently made bracelets in the school's colors, blue and yellow, that read, "I am drug free. Test me."
"We saw the need for it," said 17-year-old senior Jarett Raade, who is the co-chair of the athletes' council. "It's an easy way to see who's using and who's not."
Some parents and students argue that the policy is ineffective and will drive students away from extracurricular activities.
"This isn't about busting kids," Cottage Grove High School Principal Iton Udosenata said. "It's about helping kids. It's not about infringing on kids' rights. The outcome we want is for more kids to have the opportunity to say 'no.'?"
The school districts say the policies will help curb drug abuse and encourage students with issues to seek help.
A U.S. Supreme Court case in 2002 allowed testing of students participating in extracurricular activities. The American Civil Liberties Union, among others, has argued that the tests violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.
Most tests, which typically detect marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and opiates, cost $2 to $5.75 per student.
The southern Oregon school districts that test their student athletes for drugs are mostly smaller districts. Larger area districts like Eugene and Springfield don't test.
South Lane tried a voluntary drug-testing policy in the early 1990s, but the district found it to be ineffective because the students who volunteered to be tested were not the ones using drugs, Superintendent Krista Parent said.
In addition to programs that encourage students to stay sober and clean, students in the district must take a Breathalyzer test before entering a school dance.
A Cottage Grove police dog has also roamed school hallways, sniffing for drugs.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com