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Hall County school board to begin drug screenings of drivers
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The Hall County School Board voted Monday to expand random, mandatory drug testing to all permitted student-drivers as well as student-athletes for the 2008-09 school year.

Until now, the school system has conducted random tests only on student-athletes.

But board members hope the expanded program will further educate students about the dangers and problems of alcohol and drug abuse and give "kids another reason to say no," West Hall Athletic Director Greg Williams has said.

And just like student-athletes who test positive for drugs, student drivers who test positive the first time will not be allowed to drive to school for 10 percent of the semester, according to the school system’s proposal.

"Our goal isn’t to catch and punish. Our goal really is to intervene and educate," spokesman Gordon Higgins has said. "All students who have tested positive have to go into a drug counseling program, along with their parents."

The cost of the expanded program will be covered by a $5 increase in parking permits.

"Principals have told me they’re already in the process of selling permits for next year," Higgins said. "We see this as a partnership between us and the parents and the community."

Higgins has said that next year, the school system wants to consider expanding the program to include all students participating in extra-curricular activities and, even later, middle school athletes.

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