Schools Set Drug Testing Policy! 

Schools Set Drug Testing Policy! 
Posted by FoM on July 15, 1999 at 13:10:57 PT
Board will require applicants to pass a drug test
Source: St. Petersburg Times
INVERNESS -- Pre-employment drug testing for new school district employees would only catch people who have used drugs in the couple of days before the test and might not be worth the cost the district is proposing to pay, School Board member Pat Deutschman argued this week.
But she was outvoted by the rest of the board, who decided Tuesday night to move the drug testing policy to a public hearing next month. The policy would prevent any applicant who fails a pre-employment drug test from getting a job in the district or applying for a future job in the next year. Bus drivers are already required by law to go through pre-employment and random testing. Deutschman said she didn't think board members had taken enough time to discuss the pros and cons of the idea. Trained as a chemist, Deutschman recently talked to representatives of the laboratory that performs the required drug tests on bus drivers as well as the lab supervisor at Citrus Memorial Hospital. Deutschman said she was told that the tests won't measure trace amounts of all illegal drugs because the thresholds are placed high enough so people who eat too many poppy seeds before a test don't fail the test. Some drugs such as marijuana and cocaine could disappear from a person's system within just a few days and not turn up on the test. She also learned that, while drug testing does appear to be a deterrent for drug use, the number of employees caught with drugs in their system is small. Statewide, according to Deutschman's research, only 1 percent of bus drivers tested randomly turned up with positive drug tests, about a half percent down from 1995. Deutschman also criticized spending an estimated $5,300 on testing new employees and another $22,000 annually testing substitutes. She called other counties to find that only about a dozen had a testing program, and some limited who they tested while others made the applicants pay the cost of the test. "I have a better view now of pre-employment drug testing," Deutschman said after sharing her findings. "All you can say is that a person you have offered a job to has not used drugs for the past week or so." She added, "I know the message we want to send about drug use in the workplace, but I don't know that this is the vehicle to get us there." Board Chairwoman Patience Nave asked if hard-core drug users could go for a few days without using drugs. Deutschman responded, "Hard-core drug users cannot afford taking a job in the school system -- we just don't pay that much." She added that serious drug users were probably going to be found out in criminal background checks. Board member Carl Hansen said he understood Deutschman's concerns, but that even businesses with small profit margins were concerned enough about drug use by employees that they spent the necessary money to test. "It is certainly worthwhile for us to protect our children even if it is just for the deterrent effect," Hansen said. Still concerned about the impact on an already-tight budget, Deutschman suggested that the number of people could be limited or that the applicants might be required to pay the cost. But other board members argued that any change in the proposal now would mean more delays in putting the testing plan in place, and this is the busy time of the year for hiring new employees. Board member Mark Stone, who had originally proposed the policy, said that the idea had been kicked around for a long time and needed to move forward now because the majority of the board favored it. But Deutschman persisted, noting that it was initiated by the board and not by the staff identifying it as a need or a problem in the district. The board voted to set the proposed policy for public hearing at the Aug. 10 board meetingDeutschman opposed. In other action: The board unanimously approved Janet Reed as the new principal at Floral City Elementary School. Reed, who has served as assistant principal at Floral City for the past two years and has been at the school her entire career, replaces Linda Kelley, who was recently appointed as director of planning for the school district. The board discussed a glitch that has come up in its lease with the city of Crystal River over the Environmental Science Academy site. The site was bought by Crystal River through a public trust program, which is now seeking a change in the lease with the schools. That change would require unlimited access by the public to the school when students are not in class. School Board attorney Richard "Spike" Fitzpatrick told the board he believed they should oppose any change in the lease because of the liability unlimited access would mean for the district. He also said he would do some research on the issue and report back to the board. The board suspended school maintenance worker Gerald Laverne without pay pending a hearing to have him terminated. Laverne was suspended with pay by superintendent Pete Kelly last month and has been accused of "gross insubordination, willful neglect of duty, misconduct in office and overall unsatisfactory job performance," in his suspension letter from Kelly. Laverne is fighting those charges and the pending termination and has chosen to plead his case before the School Board. That has not yet been scheduled. In a closed session, the board expelled six students for a variety of offenses, bringing the total at the close of the school year to 41. The actions included: Expelling an eighth-grade male student at Crystal River Middle School for all of the next school year for battery on a student. Expelling a seventh-grade male student at Citrus Springs Middle School for the first half of next year for possession of marijuana. Expelling a seventh-grade female student at the Renaissance Center through the end of next year for battery on a school official. Expelling a ninth-grade female student at the Renaissance Center until the end of the year just past for possession of a controlled substance. Expelling one 10th- and one 11th-grade male students from the Renaissance Center through the middle of the next school year for possession and distribution of a controlled substance. By BARBARA BEHRENDT© St. Petersburg Times, Published July 15, 1999 © Copyright 1999 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.
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Comment #2 posted by Yukastanio on May 02, 2001 at 13:24:50 PT:
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Comment #1 posted by doug on April 27, 2001 at 05:13:58 PT:
drug testing
i think we shouldnt have drug tests at all it is an invasion of privacy even if they're illegal. i also believe that marijuana shouldn't be illegal, even alchohol is worse for you than marijuana. i feel that marijuana and mushrooms should be the only legal drugs though.
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