Pubdate: Mon, 01 Dec 2008
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Asheville Citizen-Times
Author: Jordan Schrader
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Raleigh - A Graham County Schools policy of randomly testing employees
for drug and alcohol use violates the state constitution, a teacher's
attorney told N.C. Court of Appeals judges today.

A lower court sided with the school district, which says it's trying
to keep students safe.

But lawyer Luke Largess told the court the tiny school district in the
far-western mountains has found no sign of drug use that would
indicate children are in danger.

"This isn't an urban system like Wake or Mecklenburg where you have
massive turnover in the staff and principals don't know the teachers,"
Largess said. "These are schools where the principals have known the
teachers for years."

Largess represents the N.C. Association of Educators and Robbinsville
High School Spanish teacher Susan Jones, whose lawsuit has held up the
random testings from starting.

The district, which continues to test new hires and employees its
suspects of drug use, says it may be the only one in the state that
has passed a random-testing policy.

School district lawyer Dean Shatley noted that the court has upheld
random drug testing for airport employees who drive vehicles near planes.

"It's only logical to conclude that school employees who directly
affect the health and welfare and safety of students, who supervise
children and provide for children, also should be categorized as
safety-sensitive," Shatley said.
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