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September 22, 1997

School

ACLU notifies NSD of constitutional implications of drug testing policy

  by Andrew Walgamott
   NORTHSHORE--The American Civil Liberties Union is vowing to file suit against the Northshore School District if the district begins "suspicionless" drug testing. But district officials said the ACLU's interest won't stop them from engaging the community in discussions about random and mandatory testing of high school athletes.
  
   Gerard Sheehan, Seattle ACLU legislative director, said a suit would be "pretty likely" if the district went through with drug testing.
   Sheehan has notified the district via letter that such a policy would be a violation of the Washington Constitution, Article 1, section 7 which protects citizens against suspicionless searches. "If government gets to search people, it's in the belief the individual is doing something wrong," Sheehan said. "Here, there's no reason."
   He termed the letter a "statement of intent" rather than a threat.
  
   The district will hold community meetings at the Bothell High School gym Sept. 29 and Oct. 8. The public is encouraged to attend as their voice will help determine whether or not the district pursues testing.
   "We will not be presenting policy or procedures at this meeting. We will be looking at concepts," Eric Barnum, Northshore Director of Student and Athlete Services, said. A panel of speakers from Burlington-Edison School District (which tests athletes), Northshore, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and a drug testing laboratory will be on hand.
  
   Meetings begin at 7 p.m. BHS is at 18125 92nd Ave. N.E. in Bothell.
   The School Board would have the final say if the district tests or not.
   Sheehan said the district hadn't invited the ACLU to speak at the meetings, but toldWoodinville Weekly representatives from his organization would attend.