Pubdate: Tue, 15 Feb 2011
Source: Express-Times, The (PA)
Copyright: 2011 The Express-Times


Bangor School Board President Joseph BoyleThe Bangor Area School
District has taken an important first step toward protecting students
from teachers who have problems with drugs or alcohol by implementing
a drug testing policy for new hires.

But that's all it is. An important first step.

The next step must be a screening program for existing teachers, an
idea the school board has supported in theory but has not yet approved.

Superintendent Patricia Mulroy says the policy will be part of labor
negotiations with the teachers union sometime later this year. The
board's solicitor has reportedly shared concerns about whether a
random drug testing policy for teachers would be constitutional. So
the board is aiming for a policy where teachers would be tested if
there's just cause, according to board President Joseph Boyle. Boyle
said the school district doesn't want to waste taxpayers' money or
administrators' time defending the policy in court.

Really? What makes district officials think a with-cause policy won't
be subjected to a court challenge? It's highly unlikely the teachers
union would agree to with-cause testing during contract negotiations.
But even if that happens, it won't protect the school district from a
legal challenge. And depending on what parameters are set, it could
actually increase the likelihood of a lawsuit.

Random drug testing is the fairer, less complicated approach to
testing current employees and a step the school board should take.

Of course, it would be much easier if teachers would agree to such
testing, sending a message to the public that it really is all about
the children and their safety. But it's a move that should be made --
with or without the teachers' consent. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D