Father, son challenge legality of Fairbanks school drug policy

Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2003

FAIRBANKS - An attorney for a North Pole student expelled for refusing to take a drug test has asked a federal judge to order the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District to revise its drug and alcohol policy.

Attorney Don Logan said the policy is unconstitutional, and he hopes to persuade U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline to order the school district to make several changes.

Proposed changes include bans on disciplining students for any actions of their parents and on calling the police if a student doesn't take a drug test.

Beistline has not yet ruled on Logan's motion for a preliminary injunction in the case of North Pole High School student Anthony Frey and his father, Martin Frey.

The two sued the school district in August after Anthony Frey was expelled for refusing to take a urine test. The elder Frey said he would not allow the test.

The case originally was filed in state court but transferred to federal court for consideration of constitutional issues.

School officials ordered first a rapid eye exam and then the urine test after Anthony Frey came to school the last day of classes with red eyes, according to the lawsuit. Logan said the boy's eyes were red because he was up late studying for final exams.

Anthony Frey was suspended for 90 days under the district's policy for refusing a test, but the suspension was later reduced to five days.

The lawsuit prompted the School Board to change the district's policy so that the penalties for both use of drugs or alcohol and refusal to submit to a test would be a 10-day suspension. The board also formed a task force to review drug policies and issues in schools.

But Logan said Thursday that the district didn't go far enough. Even though the district has made several concessions in Anthony Frey's case, including waiving the five-day suspension, Logan contends a court order is the only way to prevent the district from committing future abuses of students' constitutional rights.

"It's not moot," he said. "It's very much alive."

School district lawyer Michael McConahy said that many of the proposed changes should not be up to a judge. Policies such as school drug and alcohol rules should be formed through the public process.

Whether Beistline grants some or all of the changes recommended in the motion for a preliminary injunction, his decision likely will not affect the Freys' pursuit of a damage claim against the district. The claim is expected to go to trial, though no date has been set.

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