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News (Media Awareness Project) - US WI: Editorial: Schools Should Test For Drugs Before They
Title:US WI: Editorial: Schools Should Test For Drugs Before They
Published On:2012-01-31
Source:Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
Fetched On:2012-02-04 06:01:26
SCHOOLS SHOULD TEST FOR DRUGS BEFORE THEY HIRE

The Antigo and Merrill school districts have been rocked in recent
weeks by drug charges against several employees, but the shockwaves
from the case extend beyond those communities. And a conversation
about drug policies in schools has followed the charges -- a hard but
necessary conversation.

Reporting last week by the Wausau Daily Herald revealed that among 14
local school districts surveyed, only three (D.C. Everest Area,
Medford and Stevens Point) ask prospective employees to take a drug
test. None do drug testing after employees are hired.

That's surprising, given the commonness of pre-employment drug testing
in the private sector -- and in the interest of disclosure, this
includes the Daily Herald. Local school districts should institute
pre-employment drug tests.

Some have suggested that school districts should go further and
institute a regime of random drug tests for teachers. That seems to us
an overreaction. It would create an additional expense to the
district, and more than that it reeks of guilty-until-proven-innocent
in a way that is certain to be unfair to the great majority of
teachers. We should not leap to the conclusion that, because of this
high-profile case, those charged are typical of their profession.

One-time, pre-employment drug screens have obvious limits, and it's
not clear that they would have prevented the alleged wrongdoing in
Antigo and Merrill, where those accused were veteran teachers. But
pre-employment screens could help to keep those who are true addicts
from employment in schools. More than that, they would send a message
that school districts take the matter seriously.

That alone would help local districts to build or rebuild confidence
in the soundness of their own policies.

Some in the community might believe that because the primary drug
involved in these cases was marijuana and not something harder, the
crimes are not such an outrage.

But think of the way these arrests have undermined the credibility of
every teacher at the affected schools to promote anti-drug messages to
their students. Fairly or unfairly, the same probably extends even to
teachers in other high schools in the area. Think of the teenager or
young adult who truly is struggling with an addiction to marijuana or
another drug -- harmful, painful addictions are not the sole province
of older adults -- and the way these arrests illustrate to them that
even authority figures in their own lives apparently do not follow the
law.

It is serious and needs to be taken seriously. To any teen who is
reading this, understand that the message is not that the rules don't
matter. It is that many people of all ages struggle to live within the
law, and that illegal drug use can and does destroy lives at all
levels of society.

No one should take these arrests as a sign that abuse is widespread.
There is no evidence that it is. But school districts should examine
their own drug prevention policies, including but not limited to
pre-employment drug screening policies, and make reforms where they
are necessary.
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