THEIR VIEW: The unalienable right of teachers to use drugs

By The West Virginia Record | Jan 15, 2009

CHARLESTON -- Hoppy Kercheval is dead wrong on this one. Teachers and school employees should be randomly drug tested. Absolutely. Hoppy's defense of them is a little perplexing.

By VIC SPROUSE

CHARLESTON -- Hoppy Kercheval is dead wrong on this one.

Teachers and school employees should be randomly drug tested. Absolutely. Hoppy's defense of them is a little perplexing.

I normally agree with him, but his commentary in support of shielding teachers from drug testing sent me over the edge.

(See Kercheval's commentary here.)

The teachers did win the first round of this battle in front of Judge Joe Bob Goodwin. And, this will eventually be decided at the 4th Circuit and maybe even the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hoppy and the others who support allowing teachers to skirt random drug testing make the point that this is an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Judge agreed (of course, the Judge used ridiculous analogies and went off the deep end in his decision, don't get me wrong I LOVE ridiculous analogies, but I write them in blog entries NOT Judicial decisions).

I believe the Kanawha County school board will prevail. Why? Because when you leave your home and enter a workplace, the rights of the community now are on equal footing with the rights of the individual.

For instance, you have the absolute right to free speech as an individual. However, you can't yell fire in a theater.

You have the absolute right to keep and bear arms. In your home, absolutely, you do, but when you exit your home there are certain restrictions on that individual right because of the communities' collective rights.

You can't carry concealed, unless you have a permit.

You can't carry a gun into government offices or private offices that do not allow firearm possession.

Your right to keep and bear arms ends at your employer's door.

This case is even stronger because we now aren't talking about a legal right such as gun ownership. You don't have a constitutional right to use smoke crack. In fact, it's actually illegal in your home, a point the teachers' unions seem to miss.

It is certainly illegal in the workplace and your employer has every right to make a determination on whether or not you use drugs by randomly drug testing you.

In the case of random drug testing for some reason there have been and (judging by Goodwin's ruling) continues to be two different standards for private-sector employees and government employees.

Being a government employee does not give you more of a right to avoid "search," (i.e. a crack pipe in your possession) than being a private-sector employee and unfortunately, the courts seems to be continuing this trend. Let's hope the 4th Circuit rectifies this.

But, the other legal aspect of this is why are new hires and transfers able to be drug tested as a requirement of their employment, but longer serving teachers are not? Long-term teachers should be held to the same standards as new hires.

The point here is basic.

The community has a right to an assurance that people teaching their kids are not using drugs.

Period.

That's teacher's individual "right" to use illegal drugs ends at the school house door.

Peeing in a cup behind closed doors is an unreasonable search? Please.

And, a meth snorting teacher isn't a danger to the 25 kids they are teaching? Please again.

The defenders of these drug-using teachers simply baffle me. You don't have a right to carry a firearm onto school property even though the 2nd Amendment protects that individual right.

You don't have the right to use drugs under any circumstances. Especially not in school.

Don't use drugs and you have nothing to worry about.

And, truly, if peeing in a cup actually offends you, then find another job that doesn't put you in front of 30 kids multiple hours a day.

Sprouse is the former Minority Leader of the West Virginia Senate. He currently owns a consulting company in Charleston.

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