Horry County Schools doesn’t drug test its teachers, but they want to drug test your kids.
School district general counsel Kenny Generette told the school board on Dec. 11 that the district was looking into the possibility of randomly drug testing students in the Horry County School District. The tests could be given to students with on-campus driving privileges or those engaged in extracurricular activities, and be ready for implementation by the 2018-19 school year, he said.
Horry County Schools’ personnel policy does not require random drug tests for teachers. The district doesn’t require a pre-employment drug test either, despite previous instances of teachers being arrested and charged with drug-related crimes.
School board Chairman Joe DeFeo said that the district has discussed drug testing teachers, but that there were legal restrictions on testing an entire class of employees such as teachers.
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“I would be in favor of it but a random drug testing program of a class of employees is illegal,” he said. “We just can’t say we’re going to drug-test employees for no apparent reason.”
The district does drug test bus drivers and employees who drive district vehicles, and courts have upheld the constitutionality of random drug tests for employees when there is a safety concern, according to an October 31, 2000 South Carolina Attorney General opinion.
“There’s not a bright line when it comes to drug testing of employees in the public sector,” said Scott Price, executive director of the South Carolina School Boards Association.
“Other jurisdictions have upheld drug testing for teachers depending on whether they’re considered to be in a safety sensitive position, and whether drug use is a problem,” he said. “There’s a number of factors that go into this and whether it can be upheld.
“They could do it but there’s several factors that need to be weighed,” Price said. “I’m not aware of any particular law that says it’s illegal.”
When asked about previous discussions to drug-test teachers, school district spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said in an email that “the district is exploring current random student drug testing programs only.”
The proposal would require board approval.