Colleague Testifies About Lax Drug Testing 

Colleague Testifies About Lax Drug Testing 
Posted by FoM on December 08, 1999 at 15:44:21 PT
By Scott Fallon, Staff Writer
Source: Bergen Record
A suspended Wayne vice principal, facing termination for failing to order a student to undergo drug testing, had a history of not enforcing the district's drug-testing policy, a school administrator testified Tuesday.
Detailed testimony by Victoria Musetti, the district's student assistant specialist, proved to be the strongest yet against Joseph Graceffo, whom the district is attempting to fire at an Administrative Law hearing.Graceffo, of Wanaque, is accused of not heeding a Wayne Hills High School teacher's request for drug testing of 11th-grader Nicholas Lucatorto even though teachers said he smelled of marijuana smoke. Lucatorto died two weeks later from a heroin overdose at an overnight house party, a tragedy followed by an aggressive reinforcement of the school's drug-testing policy.According to the district's policy, an administrator must order a urinalysis for any student suspected of drug use. School officials have said they have a "zero-tolerance" policy when deciding whether to order a drug screening from students suspected of drug use.Whether Graceffo acted differently from other administrators appears to be at the heart of the case. School nurses have already testified that it was the exception, not the rule, to automatically order drug tests for students suspected of being under the influence.On Tuesday, Musetti, who helped draft the district's original drug policy, testified on behalf of the district that she cited Graceffo four times in the past for either not ordering a screening for students suspected of drug use or delaying it:In 1991, while a vice principal at Wayne Valley High School, Graceffo and a student were arguing in his office while Musetti was outside. The student ran out, knocked papers off a desk, and bolted out of the school. Musetti said she requested that the student be tested for drugs, but Graceffo declined. The student "was aggressive. He was extremely angry. His face was contorted," she said. "I thought he was high as a kite."In 1994, a teacher at Wayne Valley referred three students, who had a history of discipline problems, for drug testing. Graceffo decided to require that two of the three be tested, saying he was unable to reach the mother of one of the boys. Graceffo "said he had no intention of spending the entire day in the E.R. [Emergency Room] with [the boy]," said Musetti. "I said, 'But it's the law.' He said, 'Laws are meant to be broken.' "In October 1995, a student who was known to have used drugs was referred to Graceffo for testing. The student wasn't tested until a few days later after Musetti complained to the principal and teachers union. Graceffo's inaction kept "a student in our building lighting ovens in home-ec [economics class] and drilling holes in shop," she said.In November 1996, a 15-year-old sophomore was believed to be under the influence as the school day ended. Musetti referred it to another vice principal, Mary Jane Tierney, who handled problems with sophomores. Tierney, on her way out of school, asked Musetti to tell Graceffo to handle it first thing the next morning. Musetti said she left a message with Graceffo's secretary, but the boy wasn't removed from school until 12:30 p.m. the next day. He wasn't tested until three days later when his father brought the student back to school. On cross-examination, Graceffo's attorney, Robert Schwartz, argued that Graceffo had been the only administrator in the building that morning and was consumed by running the school. Schwartz, who has already pointed out what he said were numerous inconsistencies with the way Wayne's drug testing policy is practiced since the hearings began in October, again tried to poke holes in the measure Tuesday. In addition to a cursory physical exam by a nurse of a student suspected of drug use, the policy requires the student be examined by a physician. Musetti testified that this is almost always not followed. Musetti said she has talked with Gary Hall, the district's personnel director who helps revise the drug-testing policy, about making it a part of the practice. But she testified that Hall said as long as the student's life was not threatened, a doctor need not be called."I disagreed with that," she said.Last month, Susan Ammerman, a physical education teacher at Wayne Hills, testified that on Jan. 21, she had smelled marijuana on Lucatorto and noticed that his pupils were dilated. Two school nurses who examined him later testified that his eyes were normal and he smelled only of cigarette smoke.While the nurses were performing their examination, Graceffo phoned Lucatorto's mother to tell her about the incident. Lucatorto's mother informed Graceffo that her son had been sick with the flu and was on prescription medication. Graceffo decided not to order a urinalysis.The next morning, Robert Flower, head of the physical education department, reported to Graceffo that he smelled marijuana on Lucatorto that day. Schwartz has maintained that Graceffo thought Flower was referring to the incident with Ammerman and assured Flower the matter had already been "taken care of."Ammerman, who said she had been ostracized by some teachers loyal to Graceffo, recently retired. Judge Mumtaz Bari-Brown said she has received several letters from teachers voicing support for Graceffo.The hearing was to continue today.Published: December 8, 1999Copyright  1999 Bergen Record Corp. Related Articles:Laws Can Help Schools Fight Drugs, Expert Says - 11/19/99 Testing Policies a Tool for Public Schools - 11/18/99 To Sue Over Student Drug Testing - 8/18/99
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Comment #3 posted by Sledhead on December 09, 1999 at 06:54:31 PT
Teachers & Herb
Seems like everybody that teaches, administrates, etc. these schools has a nose for the herb. I guess they never inhaled, but then again, would you know what it smelled like if you never breathed in? Can you smell & not inhale?
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on December 08, 1999 at 20:35:36 PT
My Two Cents!
Everyday we are exposed to dangers. I say that we are being expended by our government from the air we breath, the foods with all the additives, and on and on. We aren't the ones in control of pollutants so we are being expended by those that are responsible for doing this to our enviorment.Why then can't we be allowed to expend ourselves?
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on December 08, 1999 at 18:43:43 PT
Death by stupidity
I hate to sound like a ranter, but I feel this has to be said again: when do you have a right to stop someone from being stupid? Only when his or her stupidity threatens your rights or your life. And that's it.The kid took heroin and died. Nothing new about that; heroin has killed thousands of people in the century it has been around. The medical facts about the dangers of heroin have been known for almost as long. Anyone who understands the English language, has at least one hand and one eye can pick up a book on the subject and educate themselves on the dangers of opiate usage. He no doubt had received a modicum of (albeit, slanted) information via 'drug education'. But the kid thought he could spin the roulette wheel ands pay no price. Stupid.And now they want to crucify this guy because he was expected somehow prevent someone from being stupid.The kid made a choice. And paid for making the wrong one. Life is like that. 
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