Too Many Tests for Teacher

A teacher in Las Vegas filed a lawsuit accusing the Clark County School District of false imprisonment subsequent to a drug test the suit claims was “invasive.” The suit hopes to get $100,000 for the offense, including punitive damages. Lawsuits typically look for punitive damages when the conduct in question is grossly negligent or outrageous.

The suit says Christ Casillas was held against her will in the Principal’s office for a drug test, alledging that school police were called in to keep her there against her will. This happened in 2010, and Casillas claims that although she requested a union representative before taking the test, this too was denied, the assistant principal blocked the door and forced her to take the drug test.

She tested positive for marijuana and was subsequently fired.

Casillas appealed the firing and she was re-hired after a union arbitration proceeding. She continued to work for the school district. She was tested eight more times over the next year, passing all tests.

At issue isn’t that we shouldn’t test our teachers for drugs, nor that they should be drug-free. The lawsuit is about just how teachers are handled when it comes time to “fill the cup.”

It’s a touchy subject. On the one hand, to get the highest confidence, you want an unannounced test. This prevents someone from smuggling in a clean urine or stopping their drug long enough to clear the body. For marijuana, this is harder, since marijuana is detectable for weeks to months after stopping use. But for other drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine, all traces may disappear after a few days of abstinence.

On the other hand, teachers have rights, as do all citizens. One of those rights is to refuse a drug test unless bound to it by a court order. They would have to accept the consequences (usually a suspension or firing), but in no case is it OK to force someone to test against their will.

At this writing, the school districts legal department has not announced whether they will take the matter to trial or settle.

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