Blog

 
     

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Drug Test Mandate for School Teachers

By Michael Klazema on 12/31/2013

In mid-December, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives made a big decision regarding applicants to public and private school teaching positions. In a vote that rang victorious with a near-unanimous 182-12 approval, the State House passed a new piece of legislation that would make pre-employment drug testing a common part of background check procedures in schools around the state. The “yes” vote will kick the bill over to the Senate, and if approved there, the law could likely go into effect as soon as 2014.

Unlike other employment screening laws, which generally require employers to run certain background checks on their applicants, but don’t always say precisely what employers should or must do with that information, the Pennsylvania school drug testing bill – officially called “House Bill 810” – really is a mandate. If a drug test indicated that a prospective schoolteacher had recently used a controlled substance other than a personally prescribed medication, law would prohibit the school district from hiring that particular applicant.

That’s not the only unique thing about Pennsylvania House Bill 810. On the contrary, not only would teachers be subject to a high-stakes drug test during their employment screening routine, but they would also be required to shoulder the cost of the drug test themselves. Teachers won’t take kindly to that part of the equation, especially depending on where in the employment screening process the drug test takes place.

From the language of the bill, it sounds as if the drug test would be required after the job had already been offered, with employment being conditional upon clean results. That way, a clean test would guarantee employment, and most applicants wouldn’t be too hesitant to spend the $30 or $50 to finalize their job offer. However, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education would have final say on how the drug tests would be implemented, and some teachers are worried that they could end up paying for multiple drug tests in any given job search with no guarantee for employment. A good compromise for the State of Pennsylvania might be to reimburse teachers who show clean drug test results.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association has another proposal: schools should have to show “probable cause” – or some form of concrete evidence or viable suspicion that an applicant may be using drugs – in order to require a drug test. The teacher’s union believes that the law “intrudes on individual privacy rights” without actually solving any problems, and thinks that state lawmakers should focus instead on creating legislation that helps drug abusers address their problems.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has similar views, calling House Bill 810 an unconstitutional provision that would subject teachers to invasive and unreasonable searches and seizures. The ACLU has faced down similar legislation in other states, and toppled it through court litigation. The union plans to take this bill to the courts as well, should it pass through the Senate without issue. Like the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the ACLU of Pennsylvania believes the drug-testing bill would not actually solve any problems, mostly because drug use among teachers is a low-rate occurrence anyway. Mandated drug screenings, in most cases, would be a waste of time and money for school educators.

Regardless of the opposition, the bill’s sponsor, a Democrat Representative named Anthony DeLuca, is holding strong in his support for the bill. DeLuca believes that, since drug tests are already common among police officers and even school bus drivers, it would only be reasonable for them to be used for teachers as well. He hopes his bill will “truly make schools drug-free zones” and protect kids and teenagers from the dangers of substance abuse.

While teachers are among the most heavily background checked professionals in any job field, universal drug testing is still rare for the profession. Backgroundchecks.com, in addition to providing the sort of criminal background checks that are the norm in the education sector, also offers drug-testing solutions. The company uses industry-leading partners to get superior drug test results with quick turnaround times.

Sources: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/12/house_passes_bill_requiring_pr.html


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.


  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.