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My Kid Is Drug-Free

Mandatory drug tests.

continued...

Many Lockney residents seem to see the father as a lone dissenter and obstructionist who's getting in the way of a much-needed program. "It is very easy to sit back smugly and say that good parents would know if their child was using drugs," says Lisa Mosley, a former school board member and now an art teacher at Lockney High School. "But even good kids in good homes become addicted."

Warren Mathis, a Lockney resident for 58 years, says Tannahill has forgotten that other parents in the community also have rights. "People here don't think much of Tannahill now," Mathis says.

The reaction of his neighbors has been tough on Tannahill, who didn't plan on getting himself labeled the town rebel and has never been involved in politics. Rather, Tannahill sees himself simply: He's a father who had always spent a lot of time with his son, ever since the days when Brady was a toddler and Larry would bring him along while he worked the fields at his father's farm. He feels as though he knows his son almost as well as he knows himself. "A lot of folks in our family say that Brady was potty trained on a tractor," says Tannahill. "He's always been the most important thing in my life."

Now he shakes his head over the uproar and his new role challenging authority. "I was born and raised in this town, and I am surprised at the reaction I have received," says Tannahill. "There are people here that support me, but they see what I've been through now and don't want to speak out. I just cannot believe that people are willing to sit back and let the school system raise their kids and take their constitutional rights away. I won't do that and I don't care how many people around here disagree with me."

Brady has fared better than his father. The school board has stayed any disciplinary action against him until after the case is resolved, which won't likely happen before the end of the year. And neither the administration nor his fellow students have given him a hard time. "He went through school like nothing was happening," says Tannahill, who plans to home-school his son if he loses in court. "The kids here are being more adult about this than the adults are."

Lockney district officials say they decided to implement the new policy after concluding that their schools had a significant and growing drug problem. The board began discussing the policy in 1997, when 13 indictments were handed down against local drug dealers.

"The information [police] got from the dealers is that they were selling to the students," said Don Henslee, an Austin, Texas, lawyer representing the Lockney school system. "Based on that, the community literally insisted that the school system do something in terms of a drug policy."

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