According to KITV ABC 4, the State of Hawaii has agreed to end implementation of its random drug testing policy for teachers, for which it had negotiated in a 2007 contract. Although the teachers had agreed to the contract, which included the random drug testing program along with pay increases, the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) has opposed the policy since the contract was signed. HSTA President Wil Okabe said, ”For the past four years HSTA [and] the ACLU have been challenging the random drug testing.”
Opposition to the policy has focused on teachers’ rights and the constitutionally of random tests without suspicion. The state had pushed for the program under Gov. Linda Lingle and the issue was even taken up by the courts.
“We’re very happy to see that no teachers will be exposed to this unconstitutional, expensive and unnecessary program,” said ACLU attorney Dan Gluck. Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s chief negotiator and others signed off on the agreement “to avoid further expense and risk of litigation.” While the teachers’ union doesn’t want random drug testing, it also doesn’t want drugs in schools. It supports testing of teachers who are suspected of using drugs. ”HSTA believes schools should be drug-free,” said Okabe. Okabe disputes that the original 2007 contract agreement providing for pay increases was tied to the start of random drug testing and the latest agreement to drop policies and procedures for the program will not have any impact on teacher’s pay.
Source: KITV ABC 4, 9/12/11, By Staff
[Editor's Note: The 2007 random drug testing provision has been fraught with problems from the beginning. In July 2008, Legal Clips provided a summary of an Education Week article reporting that then-governor Linda Lingle and the Hawaii State Department of Education (HDE) were battling over who would pay the costs of conducting mandatory, random drug testing of the state’s teachers. According to the article, Lingle argued HDE should foot the bill and had enough money in its $2.3 billion budget to do so. The Hawaii Board of Education, however, was refusing to approve funding for the program, countering it would require taking money away from the classroom.
In Auguist 2011, Legal Clips summarized a Peoria Journal Star report that Illini Bluffs School District 327 teachers remained on strike over the school board’s demand that random drug testing of union members be included in a new three-year collective bargaining agreement. Earlier, in February 2011, Legal Clips summarized a federal district court decision finding that a Tennessee school board’s policy subjecting teachers to random drug testing violated the teachers’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches because it lacked proper notice and was unreasonably implemented. The court declined to rule that random drug testing of teachers is unconstitutional per se.]