Whitehead gives Moran some Constitutional advice

Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead has gotten phone calls from parents concerned that Albemarle County schools combat underage drinking by forcing parents to promise to snitch on their kids if they want to play athletics. The athletic training rule, i.e., the pledge, is already under scrutiny of a committee of principals and school administrators, which will make a recommendation to Superintendent Pam Moran.

"While we support the spirit of the administration's efforts to discourage student use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, the Training Rule as it has been structured poses a serious risk to the rights of parents and students and constitutes an unwarranted invasion into the privacy of families," writes Whitehead in a March 26 letter to School Board Chair Sue Friedman.

According to Whitehead, the pledge is problematic on several Constitutional levels: It runs afoul of judicial precedent by compelling parental testimony, violates the First Amendment by failing to provide an exemption for use of alcohol in a religious ceremony, and stomps all over equal protection under the law by singling out athletes. He also cites concerns that it usurps parental authority. "I don't think the pledge is enforceable under the law," he says.

Moran will make her decision known to the School Board April 19. And if Albemarle doesn't mend its allegedly unconstitutional ways, Whitehead doesn't rule out a lawsuit. "I'd have to have a client," he points out.