ROBBINSVILLE, N.C. â€” Teachers in this small rural town's school district are awaiting a state appeals court ruling to see if they'll be required to submit to random tests for drugs and alcohol.
Graham County, N.C., which has fewer than 1,200 students, is one of a small group of school districts in the nation attempting to establish random drug tests of teachers and other employees.
The district would be among the "very, very few" to randomly test teachers, American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Adam Wolf says.
School districts in at least four Kentucky counties â€” Knott, Montgomery, Letcher and Floyd â€” do random testing, the Kentucky Education Association's Tim Southern said.
Teachers in Kanawha County, W.Va., came close to being subjected to such testing, but three days before its Jan. 1 start, a federal district court stopped it. The idea is also on hold in Hawaii, awaiting a state board's ruling.
"It would be in our view a waste of money, because there is no problem that a drug-testing program can address," said Michael Simpson, assistant general counsel with the National Education Association.
In North Carolina, a lawsuit by the state teachers' association prevented a 2007 start for random drug testing in Graham County schools.
Former county school board chairman Mitch Colvard says he saw a worsening local drug problem in his job as a paramedic. He pushed for the policy in 2006.
"I think when I put my kids in their hands, they lose their rights," Colvard says. "My rights are more important."
Robbinsville teacher Cheryl Morgan says testing would pull her from the classroom when she's under pressure to boost test scores.
Teacher Crystal White says no one under the influence should have charge of children.
Reports of drug use have spurred testing efforts.
"Like many other folks, we have had a number of our employees either on or off the job found with drugs or been accused of having drugs," said Jim Withrow, Kanawha County Schools' general counsel.
Do you think this should be a requirement for all teachers?