#181 People Magazine: Father Stands Up Against Student Drug

Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000
Subject: #181 People Magazine: Father Stands Up Against Student Drug

People Magazine: Father Stands Up Against Student Drug Testing


DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 181 August 22, 2000

As more school districts implement drug testing programs, it is
heartening to see some citizens taking a public stand against this
attack on students’ constitutional rights. People Magazine last week
featured the story of Larry Tannahill who has refused to permit his
son to participate in a random drug testing program at a local public

As the story notes: “What disturbed Tannahill, 36, was the presumption
of guilt: Parents were warned that if they didn’t sign a form
consenting to the exams, their children would be treated as if they
had tested positive and punished with in-school suspension and a
temporary ban from extracurricular activities.” (For more information
about Larry Tannahill and the Lockney policy, see MAP’s shortcut to
other stories at: http://www.mapinc.org/lockney.htm)

Larry Tannahill and his family have found little local support for
their challenge to the drug testing plan, but he should be commended
for his stand. Please write a letter to People to show there are
others who understand that drug war tactics like forcing grade school
children to undergo unwarranted searches weakens the Constitution for
all Americans.

NOTE: People Magazine Circulation – 3.15 Million Readers!!


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Source: People Magazine (US)
Contact: editor@people.com



US: He Just Said No
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1183/a03.html
Newshawk: Bob Ramsey
Pubdate: Mon, 21 Aug 2000
Source: People Magazine (US)
Copyright: 2000 Time Inc.
Contact: editor@people.com
Address: People, Time-Life Building,
Rockefeller Center, New York, NY 10020
Feedback: http://www.pathfinder.com/people/web/write_to_us.html
Section: page 77
Authors: Thomas Fields-Meyer, Michael Haederle in Lockney

(Newshawk note: Main page photo of Tannahill and sons on tailgate of
pickup with caption: “It’s a sad shame that people who don’t even know
these boys think they’re guilty,” says Tannahill (with sons Coby,
left, and Brady). Three other photos: 1) Tannahill and Lawyer Jeff
Conner before the Lockney school board 2) “Pro-test” student leader
Jeffrey Hunter with water tower in background 3) Tannahill family
playing ball in the yard.)

Bookmark: MAP’s shortcut to The Lockney Policy items:


When The Local School Tried to Make His Son Take a Drug Test, Larry
Tanahill Filed Suit

A farming community of some 2,300 in the Texas Panhandle, Lockney
might seem at first glance far removed from the drug problems facing
larger cities.

So Larry Tannahill was surprised last January when his son Brady, 12,
came home with the news that the town’s schools would be requiring
every student from sixth grade up to submit to routine urine tests.
What disturbed Tannahill, 36, was the presumption of guilt: Parents
were warned that if they didn’t sign a form consenting to the exams,
their children would be treated as if they had tested positive and
punished with in-school suspension and a temporary ban from
extracurricular activities. “It’s not right,” says Tannahill. “It’s
going against everything they’re teaching these kids about

Tannahill and his wife, Traci, 35, refused to sign–and they were the
only parents to do so. Frustrated after protesting the policy to
school officials and speaking out at a public meeting, Tannahill took
his complaint to another level: In March he sued the school district
in federal Court on the grounds that the policy violated his son’s
Constitutional protection from unreasonable search and seizure. As a
result, Tannahill has found himself ostracized in the town, where four
generations of his family have lived. He is also out of work, fired
from his job with a farmer whose wife and sister are employed by the
school district. Still, he vows to fight on. “We’re trying to raise
these boys with trust,” he says of Brady and his brother Coby, 11.
“And I just believe they’ve taken that away.” An A and B student who
has never been in trouble, Brady stands firmly with his dad. “I don’t
think it’s right,” he says of the policy. “They are just telling you,
‘Do it or else.'”

Whether the court backs up the Tannahills remains to be seen. In 1995
the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a policy allowing random drug testing
for student athletes in the small town of Vernonia, Ore. Citing an
American Academy of Pediatrics policy critical of drug testing, Graham
Boyd, a lawyer handling Tannahill’s suit for the American Civil
Liberties Union, argues that such policies haven’t been shown to curb
abuse. “They look tough on drugs,” he says, “but they’re not effective.”

Despite its bucolic setting, Lockney has had its battles with drugs.
In September 1998, after a lengthy undercover investigation, a grand
jury indicted 11 locals, all adults, on charges of cocaine
trafficking. (Eight defendants were convicted, and three cases are
pending.) School superintendent Raymond Lusk notes that teachers had
complained of students showing up on Monday mornings with drug and
alcohol hangovers. “Our staff felt like there was a severe problem,”
he says. Incoming student council president Jeffrey Hunter, 17, who
supports the policy, says he learned about drugs in Lockney schools
“pretty much as soon as I got into sixth grade. That’s when it starts.”

Lockney adopted its policy-modeled after one in Sundown, 76 miles
away-in November. All students and staff would be tested during the
first round; thereafter 10 percent of the school population would
undergo tests monthly. “I’m sure there’s drugs in Lockney,” says
Tannahill. “But I don’t think there’s enough to warrant what they’re
trying to do.”

Before January the soft-spoken Tannahill was not exactly known as a
rabble rouser. The youngest of three children born to a Lockney farmer
and his homemaker wife, he tried farming on his own but later hired on
as a hand for another local farmer, moving to the small rented house
he shares with Traci–a clerk at a nearby prison–and their sons.

Neighbors have offered little support for their stance. “If either one
of my children were doing drugs, I’d want them to get help,” says Pat
Garza, 36, mother of two teenagers. “I don’t see what the big deal
is.” Other Lockney residents have been harsher: Someone shot Ranger,
the Tannahills’ boxer, with a paint ball, and a note was left on their
door that said, “You’re messing with our kids.” Letters to the local
paper have suggested the Tannahills relocate. “You should not have to
pack your bags,” says Traci, just because you disagree.”

Waiting for a U.S. district judge to hear his case, Larry Tannahill
isn’t going anywhere. “What I’m doing is my birthright,” he says.
“They have the right to try to have this policy, and I have the right
to try to stop it, because I’m concerned for my kids.”



All Americans should be grateful for Larry Tannahill’s stand against
mandatory drug tests at his son’s school (“He Just Said No,” Aug. 21).
By insisting that the U.S. Constitution be taken seriously, he
attempts to protect freedom for all of us. He also sets a good example
for other families. With mandatory drug tests, adults are telling
youth that regardless of any positive actions, they still must prove
their innocence by producing bodily fluids on command. By showing such
disrespect to young people, how can adults expect to get anything
different in return?

Stephen Young

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