For many job applicants, whether the work involves driving trucks or answering phones, passing a drug test is a given. That’s not the case for Texas public school teachers. The Houston Chronicle reports that officials with several districts cite cost as one major reason they skip pre-employment drug screens for teachers. With the recent drug arrests of more than a dozen Houston school employees, some advocates are calling on districts to revisit their hiring practices.
“School teachers – next to parents, and in some cases, above parents – are the strongest role model in a child’s life,” said Calvina Fay of the Drug Free America Foundation. “If there’s ever an employee that we should be looking that they’re drug free, it should be teachers.” State Rep. Rob Eissler, who chairs the House Public Education Committee, said he would support studying mandatory drug screening for teaching applicants. More than 300,000 teachers currently work in the state’s public schools. This week, Houston school superintendent Abelardo Saavedra announced a crackdown on employees with drugs. He did not require drug tests for teachers, but the district plans to dispatch drug-sniffing dogs to all 300 schools to search employee parking lots. The move follows the arrests of at least 15 employees, mostly teachers, accused of having marijuana or undocumented prescription drugs in their cars at school.