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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Proposal to impose drug screening on school districts raises concerns

February 10, 2014

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— Legislation that would require school districts to test employees for drugs if they are suspected of illegal drug use came in for intense questioning from some education officials on Monday.

In addition to drug screening, Senate Bill 335 would require teachers to submit fingerprints for background checks.

State Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, said the proposals would help "provide a safe learning environment for our students."

He pointed to a national report that said 10 percent of students are victims of sexual abuse by school personnel sometime during their school career.

Education officials didn't oppose the fingerprint background checks, saying that new applicants for a teaching license and those renewing a lapsed license already submit their fingerprints.

And the State Board of Education is considering a rule change that would ultimately result in files for all licensed educators' fingerprints, according to Marjorie Blaufuss, an attorney with the Kansas National Education Association.

But Blaufuss and Mark Tallman, associate executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards, raised numerous concerns about the proposed drug screening of school employees.

Under the bill, all drug tests will be sent to the State Board of Education where a hiring school district would be able to access the test results.

Blaufuss said that raised concerns about whether a drug test would let a potential employer know about a teacher's use of a legally prescribed drug for a physical or mental disability. Divulging that information is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act, she said.

Tallman raised several questions, including whether the bill required drug testing or allowed school districts to put in place drug screening policies. Blaufuss and Tallman said their organizations were taking a neutral position on the bill at this point.

The committee took no action, but said it would study the issue further.

According to the Lawrence school district, an employee who has violated the district's drug-free schools policy may face a range of punishments from required participation in drug or alcohol testing and treatment to termination.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 months ago

ALEC Government is about bigger more intrusive government and taking over state government in the interest of expanding the bank accounts of private industry and reducing wages for all blue and white collar workers.

More money for CEO's and their golden parachutes.

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Mike Ford 2 months, 1 week ago

when will the gop stop harassing teachers and cutting school funding? just admit it gop you want students with a theocratic view of things who don't question anything or think critically. this situation already exists throughout the rest of Kansas and it's brought to you by ALEC and the Koch Brothers.

2

Ken Hunt 2 months, 1 week ago

Where is the proof about 10% of students being sexually abused by school staff? By this fact alone you mean a few 100,000 students have been in the USA? Treat any entity that gets government funds the same: drug testing for corporations, farmers, military...then we can start talking. Nothing short of a war on education and unions.

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Bob Zimmerman 2 months, 1 week ago

Get urine tests, too. DNA tests. Background checks.

Anybody that works for the public sector can't be trusted. Unless they own a gun...then no need for background checks.

This is Kansas, baby. Welcome to the 19th century.

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Lane Signal 2 months, 1 week ago

This is just part of the radical right's war on public schools. They are trying to discourage skilled teachers from choosing this profession. This goes hand in hand with attempts to limit teacher's union bargaining power and funding cuts to the schools. Brownie and his good old boys want to take every opportunity to dehumanize and discourage teachers so that can make public schools as bad as possible. Then they can argue that private schools are the only reasonable alternative.

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Terry Lee 2 months, 1 week ago

The only people who will have trouble with this are people who are doing drugs -- and that will weed them out (no pun intended) and keep them away from our kids -- and that works for me.

2

Brion Eduardo 2 months, 1 week ago

I don't like the proposal. However, to his credit, State Sen. Greg Smith isn't as hypocritical as most GOP politicians, who usually claim to advocate for "limited government." Smith, on the other hand, is rather straightforward in his assertion that Kansans are merely subjects in servitude to our political masters.

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Phil Minkin 2 months, 1 week ago

When we drug test state office holders, we can then move on to teachers.

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Wayne Kerr 2 months, 1 week ago

Finger prints, drug testing, what's next, polygraph tests? Why do teachers have to prove their innocence if they haven't done anything wrong? What happened to our basic right and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure? This legislation is un-American. It's an outright attack on our civil liberties and would be a huge waste of money.

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