Drug & Alcohol Testing Policy Change

 

By: Pat Hunter

December 16, 2008

 

 

The Loudon County Board of Education "School Board" reviewed changes to policies and procedures. The School Board had requested that school board member D-7 Craig Simon, meet with Chuck Cagle, legal counsel and Dr. Sanabria, school medical physician in charge of drug testing. The three worked to formulate a policy to address issues of Drug & Alcohol Testing for Employees. Simon is an expert on transportation issues.

 

Proposed changes to the policy came about as a result of an incidence, which involved a bus driver. The school bus driver was arrested and charged with DUI and child endangerment. The alleged incidence involved a bus driver and the use of prescription drugs when she drove a bus load of students (30 est.). The bus driver was not only a contract employee but a Loudon County Board of Education employee, a cafeteria manager at Loudon High School. The day of the incidence and days to follow, some students described a frightening and harrowing erratic bus ride with the bus driver. The bus driver was found slumped in her seat. Bad news traveled fast from coast to coast even making national news and talk show, Good Morning America.  Later it was learned that the bus driver was taking prescription drugs.

 

School board member Lisa Russell requested that the following wording from Policy 5.403  be added to Policy 3.405 Contracted Bus Service. "...For transportation department employees and contractors, the use of any prescription drug or medication that could affect the central nervous system or one that would impair reaction time shall be reported to the director of schools/director of transportation.  Bus drivers and any other drivers employed by Loudon County Schools that possess a CDL must disclose the use of any prescription medication along with a doctor’s approval to operate safety significant equipment under the influence of such prescriptions to the Director of Transportation prior to the operation of such equipment.  Additionally, notice shall be given of non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs being taken on a regular basis. The notice shall include the duration of ingestion and the possible side effects."

 

Director Honeycutt stated that he had a concern about the proposed policy wording since bus drivers were contact employees and not county employees. He suggested the following wording be changed from ..."The Director of Transportation reserves the right to dismiss any bus driver found..." to the following change in red... "The Director of Transportation reserves the right to remove the bus drivers name from the approved list...

 

Here's the final draft policy, which was adopted at the December 11th School Board meeting.

 

 

5.403 Drug & Alcohol Testing for Employees

 

REASONABLE SUSPICION DRUG TESTING

 

The Loudon County School System has a “zero tolerance” for controlled substance and alcohol abuse among its employees.  This "zero tolerance" position includes the inappropriate use of prescription medications.  Any employee or contracted employee of the Loudon County School system that has been found to be under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol, prescriptions not approved for the employee, overdosing on prescriptions that are issued to the employee, and/or failing to report changes in prescription usage in safety sensitive positions shall be subject to termination.  This is to ensure the safety of all school children and staff. Trained supervisors have the responsibility to observe and document the cause for reasonable suspicion and when appropriate, refer the matter to the director of schools/designee. It is not the supervisor's responsibility to attempt diagnosis. All information, facts and circumstances leading to and supporting this suspicion should be included in a written report detailing the basis for the suspicion. After the report is filed, the employee should be notified.

 

Any employee may be required to submit to substance screening if the following conditions exist: (list is not inclusive)

 

1. Observed use, possession or sale of illegal drugs and/or use, possession, sale, or abuse of alcohol and/or prescription drugs.

 

2. Apparent physical state of impairment of motor functions.

 

3. Marked changes in personal behavior not attributed to other factors.

 

4. Employee involvement in or contribution to an accident where the use of alcohol or drugs is reasonably suspected or employee involvement in a pattern of repetitive accidents whether or not they involve actual or potential injury.

 

5. Violation of criminal statutes involving the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs and/or violations of drug statutes.

 

TESTING FOR CDL EMPLOYEES

 

All drivers and applicants for driver positions who are required to hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to perform their job function must adhere to the requirements of this policy and all procedures relating to this policy.1   All bus drivers that possess a CDL and operate safety significant equipment must have annual physical and mental examination documented on a Medical Examiners Certificate by a licensed physician (as approved by the Director of Transportation) and submitted to the Director of Transportation.   The Director of Transportation reserves the right to dismiss any bus driver found to be physically, or mentally unfit to operate a school bus, or who has been guilty of operating a school bus while under the influence of controlled substances and/or intoxicating beverages2.

 

The use, possession, sale, purchase or transfer of any controlled substances, except medically prescribed drugs, on school property, while on school business or while operating school vehicles and equipment is prohibited. Drinking alcoholic beverages during working hours, four (4) hours before reporting to work or having any measurable amount of alcohol in his/her system during working hours is prohibited, whether on or off school property. Working hours include all breaks. Off-duty use of drugs and alcohol is prohibited to the extent that it affects driver's attendance or performance and his/her ability to pass required DOT alcohol and controlled substance tests. Any violation of this policy is grounds for termination as employee of the Board and possible legal prosecution.

 

For transportation department employees and contractors, the use of any prescription drug or medication that could affect the central nervous system or one that would impair reaction time shall be reported to the director of schools/director of transportation.  Bus drivers and any other drivers employed by Loudon County Schools that possess a CDL must disclose the use of any prescription medication along with a doctor’s approval to operate safety significant equipment under the influence of such prescriptions to the Director of Transportation prior to the operation of such equipment.  Additionally, notice shall be given of non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs being taken on a regular basis. The notice shall include the duration of ingestion and the possible side effects.

 

Procedures

 

The execution and enforcement of this policy will follow set procedures to screen bodily fluids, conduct breath testing, and/or search all employee/applicants for alcohol and drug use, and those employees suspected of violating this policy who are involved in a reportable accident or who are periodically or randomly selected. The procedures are designed not only to detect violations of this policy, but also to ensure fairness to each employee. Drivers that hold a CDL permit are subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) related drug testing for controlled substances.  Controlled substances are described by the DOT for marijuana metabolites, cocaine metabolites, amphetamines, opiate metabolites, and phencyclidine (PCP). The Director of Transportation reserves the right to perform separate additional testing for other drugs as appropriate.  Disciplinary action shall be taken as necessary.

 

Implementation

 

The director of schools/director of transportation is authorized to implement this policy and procedures for the drug testing program, including a periodic review of the program to address any problems, changes and/or revisions of it, maintenance of all records required by the federal regulations, and determination upon Board approval of how the program will be accomplished, whether in-house, contracted or by consortium. 

 

Dissemination

 

The director of schools/director of transportation shall be responsible for communicating this policy and the procedures to all employees and contractors affected by this policy and shall be accountable for its consistent enforcement.3  Any director/supervisor that fails to enforce this policy is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.  All personnel employed by Loudon County Schools that possess a CDL, including all bus contractors and their employees who operate safety significant equipment shall annually review this policy and provide written documentation of such review  which indicates their clear understanding of the policy. The director of schools/director of transportation is designated to answer questions about this policy, procedures and all other matters involved in alcohol and controlled substance testing of CDL drivers and the reasonable suspicion testing of all other employees.

__________________________

Legal References:

1. 49 U.S.C. § 2717, Alcohol and Controlled Substances Testing (Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991).

2.  Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-2108 

3. 49 CFR §382.601

Drug and Alcohol Testing

 

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12-16-08