EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSARREST RAISES ISSUE
from Eyewitness News Online
Courts Previously Batted Down Random Drug Testing For School Employees
Reported by: Bethany Simmons
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Reported: Nov. 27, 2012 10:18 AM EST
Updated: Nov. 27, 2012 11:00 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The arrest of a teacher’s aide at a Kanawha County high school on charges of simple possession and assault and battery brings up an issue that has been debated previously and landed in court – whether teachers and school employees could be randomly tested for drugs.
State Police said Heather Lively, 34, was arrested Monday after she admitted she became addicted to Suboxone and was buying it off of the street.
In January 2009, U.S. District Chief Judge Joseph Goodwin ordered that teachers and school employees in West Virginia cannot be randomly drug tested. The order came in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in partnership with the West Virginia Education Association. In addition, the order argues that drug testing without cause is a violation of public servants’ constitutional right to privacy. Kanawha County school board members had passed a random drug testing policy, but rescinded it following the decision.
Meanwhile, school officials are allowed to do for-cause or suspicion-based testing for teachers who appear impaired on the job. Teachers are also drug tested prior to employment.
After Lively’s arrest, Kanawha County School Board President Pete Thaw said, "I tried two years ago to get drug testing for teachers and the federal courts beat us to death over it. Judge Joseph Robert Goodwin told us that teachers were not a safety-sensitive position."
In light of the recent arrest, do you think more needs to be done? If so, what? Log onto the WCHS/WVAH Facebook page to join in on the conversation.
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