ASD votes 5-0: no to drug tests

The School Board on Monday said no to drug testing the Grizzlies football team this year, voting 5-0 to table the matter for two months — by which time the season will be over.

Coach Charlie Hall, who also teaches physical education at Ashland High School, said the decision was frustrating.

"I felt like they needed to make a decision and put their name on it," he said. "I can't table a decision on a Friday night. We've got to play it out."

Hall wanted to perform random weekly drug tests on his team in the hopes of curbing marijuana and alcohol use among players.

None of the board members expressed support for the idea during Monday night's meeting.

Board Chairman Keith Massie said he was concerned about keeping positive test results confidential.

"I would say we need some legal advice," he said. "I'm concerned about risk and liability and what if something leaks."

Board member Eva Skuratowicz, who is a social science professor at Southern Oregon University, questioned whether a testing program would solve the problem.

"People are saying that there's a small but growing body of evidence that drug testing is not an effective deterrent to drug use," she said.

Other board members said the district needs to work with students to change the culture of the school rather than impose a testing program.

Four parents spoke during the meeting, two in favor of testing and two opposed.

Pauline Black, whose child attends the high school, said she was against the urine analysis testing because it would primarily detect the use of marijuana, which stays in the system for about two weeks, instead of alcohol, which leaves the body after about 24 hours.

"I'm concerned that urine testing for marijuana only identifies one problem," she said. "It doesn't detect alcohol. It doesn't detect depression. It doesn't detect unsafe sexual practices. And those would be, I would say, at least as dangerous for students."

Reena Hakes, whose son plays on the team, said after the meeting that she felt the drug testing would have worked to deter students from using drugs.

"I'm disappointed," she said. "I feel like I lost ground tonight and that this would have been my one chance to get a grasp" on the pressures her son is facing.

Hall said last week that he had already received signatures of approval for the voluntary testing from all parents of players except for one.

He told the School Board that he decided to be proactive about curbing drug use after two players were caught with drugs off campus this summer, before the season started.

He gave the players a two-game suspension. If they had been caught on campus, they would have been suspended for one-third of the season — which would have hurt the entire team, Hall said.

"We don't want to be reactive," he said. "We just want this to be a proactive program so that kids who might be on the edge, it gives them the chance to step away from a tough peer pressure situation."

Karl Kemper, the district's athletic director, said he supported the testing and was upset that the board didn't allow Hall to try the testing for one season.

"I believe it's an unfortunate decision," he said. "We have a group of kids and parents who want to go through with this and we let them down tonight."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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