MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - Just days before a Berkeley County teacher was out of a job and accused of being drunk at a high school, the district’s board approved a contract for more than $100,000 to randomly test its employees for drugs and alcohol.
Berkeley County School District may be the first in the state to do this, according to school board member David Barrow.
“There isn’t another known county in the state or school district that has such a policy,” Barrow said during the Aug. 13 board meeting.
A policy, which stipulates employees in “safety-sensitive positions" could face termination if they don’t submit to these screenings, was passed in Aug. 2018. That includes teachers, principals, and school bus drivers.
However, there’s still no administrative rule regulating how the policy will work.
“At this point in time, it seems like, to me, we are putting the cart before the horse,” Barrow said.
The board approved a five-year contract with Doctor’s Care for $112,550 to do about 450 screenings each year.
Barrow maintained his concerns about the possible consequences of the mandatory tests.
“It just seems to me that we are creating a situation where retention of our employees and possible recruitment of teachers coming out of college looking at Berkeley County…it just seems to be a negative,” Barrow said.
Board member Sally Wofford rejected Barrow’s remarks. She said it’s the district’s responsibility to protect its students from what she called “a rampant drug problem.”
“There are functioning drug addicts that are working everywhere, in this school district and in every other position,” Wofford said. “It is foolish of us for time to pass by and society to change and us not to protect our kids.”
The contract commences on Aug. 28, but district leaders have not decided when the random drug and alcohol tests will begin.
Georgetown County schools also discussed drug testing its employees last year, but a policy was never passed, according to district spokesperson Ray White.