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School board discusses employee drug testing
August 23, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Now that Gering schools has implemented random drug testing for students involved in extracurricular activities, should that policy be extended to employees? That was the question for discussion during Monday’s school board meeting.
“The personnel committee wanted the board’s ideas on whether to pursue random drug testing on coaches and sponsors of our activities,” said board member Jody Miles. “The other option is to go with a pre-employment drug test. This is something I think every school should be doing.”
Fellow board member Brian Copsey said he was shocked the school district doesn’t do pre-employment drug testing. “I don’t understand how it’s gone on this long,” he said. “We have graduates that have to go through drug testing for any other job, so why not here?”
Copsey added that not all activity sponsors are school employees. However, the district should have a policy in place. “Even time we have a school employee, coach or sponsor out in the Suburban taking athletes or kids anywhere, I have a big problem when we turn a blind eye and let that happen. We should have high standards for both our students and our coaches and sponsors.”
Board member Mary Winn said she agreed, but “we saw the budget tonight. We don’t have money for litigation. I really think that’s what we would be doing with this policy.”
Member Alan Doll said it’s silly to hold students to a higher standard than coaches and sponsors. He also pointed out there are a number of legal organizations that help school districts when litigation issues pop up.
“I’ve confident that with the caliber of coaches and sponsors we have, they’d be willing to step up voluntarily and get on board with this,” said board vice president BJ Peters. “I’d prefer not to hold a hammer over their heads.”
Board president Mike Brunner said they expect a lot from coaches and sponsors. “In some cases, they may be the only adult supervision for 15 to 20-plus kids. At the very least, we should strongly encourage voluntary compliance.”
The board sent the proposal back to the personnel committee for further discussion.
In other action, the school board, after an executive session, ratified a negotiated salary increase for administrative and classified staff. Classified staff would receive a 2.5 percent increase.
The board also selected the Nebraska Association of School Boards to help with their executive search to find a new superintendent. Current superintendent Don Hague, who has served the district for the past 12 years, will retire at the end of June 2013.

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