School Board Looks into Options for Bus Driver Drug Screenings

By Michael Klazema on 4/28/2017
The Lowndes County School District Board of Education in Valdosta, Georgia plans to require regular drug screenings of bus drivers following an incident involving a driver DUI earlier this year. Per a report from The Valdosta Daily Times, the school district could face some hurdles in establishing a new policy based on court precedent.

Per coverage, in March, a bus driver for the school district was arrested after a school resource officer boarded the bus and smelled alcohol. The driver, 41-year-old Amanda Mullinax, was picking students up at a district middle school at the time of her arrest. The school resource officer stopped Mullinax and unloaded the bus.

Mullinax subsequently recorded a BAC of twice the legal limit and was charged with multiple counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and child endangerment. Per reports, the incident left the Valdosta community alarmed over the close call and wondering about the safety of school transportation.

At a recent meeting, the Board of Education discussed a new policy that would test bus drivers for drug and alcohol use. The testing, the Valdosta Daily Times article reports, would be mandatory and would apply to all employees, and it would be scheduled randomly to ensure the most accurate results.

Right now, Lowndes County Schools has a policy in place to terminate any bus driver who tests positive for alcohol or drug use, reports explain. The district does not maintain a policy allowing it to run regular substance tests on its bus drivers.

At the Board meeting, reports allege, members consulted a local attorney about running random drug tests and alcohol screenings on bus drivers. The lawyer cited a court precedent, explaining that the district does not have legal grounds to run such screenings on bus drivers without specific justification. If a bus driver were to file a worker’s compensation claim, for instance, the district could require a drug test as part of the claim assessment process. Without this type of justification, coverage notes, Lowndes County Schools may not be able to implement the proposed drug screening policy for bus drivers.


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