Loose Lips

DCPS Blows Drug Testing Deadline

In 2008, under the logic that stoned people don't make the best caretakers, the D.C. Council passed a law requiring random drug and alcohol testing for city employees who interact with kids. Last year, the inspector general's office found that the D.C. public schools still weren't drug testing employees or applicants. DCPS promised to start testing employees by September 2012.

So, did DCPS meet the deadline? Not so much.

DCPS has started drug testing new job applicants, but the system still isn't testing current employees, according to a new report from the inspector general. Though other city agencies are dinged in the report (drug-using Department of Park and Recreation  lifeguards figure prominently), the IG singles out DCPS for still not implementing its program yet.

That's a problem because, whatever you think of illegal drugs, they don't make people better coaches or teachers. But the days of DCPS employees using drugs without detection will soon be over, according to schools spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz. Salmanowitz tells LL that drug testing should start for current employees in July—as soon as some issues are worked out with the unions.

  • Wrack

    Saying that "whatever you think of illegal drugs, they don't make people better coaches or teachers" is ridiculous. Says who? Just because the government came along and designated certain substances as "illegal" has no bearing on what those drugs do to a person. And which drugs are "illegal" changes from time to time. You may recall that whole alcohol prohibition thing.

    Does alcohol not make people better teachers? I don't know... but maybe ask any given teacher who has a beer or glass of wine to decompress after dealing with those little bastards all day. Either way, don't declare summarily that we can all agree that all illegal drugs cannot have a positive effect on people. That's just silly.

    I'm not even going to get into the positive effect that currently-illegal drugs have had on music and art over the last, I don't know, 20 centuries.

  • Mr.Remember

    Is this random drug testing? Pre-screening job drug-testing? After an incident, drug-testing? Career-ending drug testing, Three-strikes you're out drug testing, Safe-harbor drug testing and so on.

  • Mr.Remember

    Drug-Free Work Place and Drug-Free School Zones. That's enough to make the City Council go bonkers. Who's in charge of the piss-in-the-cup detail?

  • Drez

    Drug testing dc gov employees has never been as much of a priority for DC Gov as employing residents and relatives has.
    Everyone knows this is true.

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  • Smh

    @Drez: Amen!

  • tman

    the only people I see being affected by random drug testing are the children whose parents have lost their jobs for having failed a random test. unless you're actually intoxicated or under the influence on the job, the tests are mostly a waste of our tax dollars. I've heard of estimates as high as $500 per test.

  • Montessori Teacher

    Why are people sending their children to schools where they feel it's necessary to test the adults for drugs?! Surely we can work to rebuild the trust between schools and their communities without resorting to this!

    Meanwhile, as people get riled up, some company somewhere will make beaucoup bucks to "process" all these human beings who work to educate children. This right here is why people complain about all the money that is wasted in education.

  • drez

    @tman
    And I've seen children affected by the neglect and abuse that arises from parental drug use at home.
    What's your point?

  • John

    Excellent; it's about time. Every government employee should have to undergo a drug teat prior to employment; almost all private sector employees have to. I'm not really for random testing unless you are in a position where your actions could lead to injury or death of others, like drivers, operators and other employees in critical positions.

  • John

    To tman: Please don't even go there with your idiotic comment. I have never heard of a current employee being fired for failing a random drug test. It's virtually impossible for a union member to get terminated for failing a test; they will undergo rehabilitation, therapy and counseling that costs the taxpayers millions across the country.

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