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Schools consider applicant drug tests

The School Board is considering adopting a new rule that would require all incoming employees to be drug tested before they get a job in the Citrus school system.

The board last week sent the idea of pre-employment drug testing to the district's policy committee. That group will research the issue and develop a policy proposal to bring back to the board.

The idea was proposed by board member Mark Stone. "I think if we tell our kids to be drug free, then we shouldn't hire anyone into the system who is not drug free," Stone said.

Currently, school bus drivers are subject to random drug tests, or they may be tested when drug use is suspected as is required by law for anyone having a commercial driver's license.

Stone said five Florida school districts require pre-employment drug testing.

Stone said the issue is not something that would have to be bargained for with the teachers union because those being tested would not be part of the bargaining unit.

Testing would "make a very strong statement" to the community and the students about the board's commitment to having a drug-free school system, Stone said.

A Wal-Mart employee, Stone said that many companies, including his own, require pre-employment drug tests. He said the cost may run about $7.50 a test.

Board member David Watson said the cost may be higher depending on which drugs are sought in the test.

Other board members said they might consider having the applicant pay the cost of the test. Those details would be worked out by the policy committee or when the proposal comes back to the board.

Board chairwoman Janet Herndon said the committee might also want to talk about the latest drug-testing issue, raised by a recent Supreme Court ruling that school systems can test student athletes for drugs.