By JORDAN COHEN
For the first time in its history, the Niles Board of Education will require nearly all new full-time workers to undergo drug testing before they begin their employment.
The policy applies to most positions in the school system including the superintendent, teachers, administrators, mechanics, bus drivers, cafeteria and custodial workers.
“These are safety-sensitive positions, which is why undergoing drug testing is a pre-employment condition,” said Superintendent Rocco Adduci.
The superintendent said that under current drug policy, school-bus drivers are tested at random, which is a state requirement. Other employees may also be subjected to a drug test when there is “reasonable suspicion” of drug activity or influence, Adduci said.
“We’ve been exploring this for quite awhile, and we feel it’s beneficial for the school system and our students,” said Marlene Rhodes, board president.
The board’s resolution, recently approved unanimously, states that new hires must have a “diminished expectation of privacy” given their job status and the regulated nature of their employment. “Suspicionless drug testing for those being hired is not unreasonable,” the resolution stated.
In other board items, Sam Reigle, Niles Middle School assistant principal, announced that students in the district have raised $2,300 for Haiti. Reigle said the students responded after the Red Cross sent representatives to the schools to appeal for help on behalf of the earthquake-devastated nation.
The board also has scheduled a special meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday to discuss what it described as “financial matters.”