Lehigh Valley

Bangor Area School District teachers vote no to random drug

BANGOR, Pa. - The Bangor teachers union says no to random drug testing.

A year ago the school board passed the ground breaking measure, but it can't be implemented without union approval.

The Bangor Area School District would have been the first in the state with a random drug testing policy for teachers and staff, but union officials say the policy would violate their Fourth Amendment rights.

The school board passed a random drug testing policy for teachers and staff back in 2013, but the measure still needed approval from the union before being implemented.

Last night the union voted no.

"I wasn't totally surprised," said Bangor school board president, Pamela Colton. "I understand the trepidation trying to implement something like this. It would be groundbreaking. No other school district in Pennsylvania randomly drug tests their staff."

The board passed the measure at the urging of the community.

In 2009 Bangor High School teacher Gina Riso died from an overdose at the apartment of Brad Washburn, a former Bangor wrestling coach.

In a statement, union officials say drug testing is not wrong as a pre-employment requirement.

Union president Kevin Lilly added, "This vote was about our constitutional rights provided under the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the historical case law that defends public employees against unreasonable search and seizure."

"I think some of that was not enough information," said Colton. "People were scared about how the process would work."

Currently the teachers are negotiating a new contract.

The drug policy would be part of the collective bargaining agreement, but both parties agree it is not part of a make or break deal.

For now, the random drug testing policy is part of district policy, but actual testing can't start unless the union passes the measure.

"I don't know how many times we can ask the teachers please take another votes, please take another vote," said Colton. "But I think that will always be the boards wish, that they will take another vote."

The union president tells me the union is not sure if they will ever vote on the drug policy again.

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