May 30, 2020

SAD 28 directors consider drug tests for new teachers

CAMDEN — Is a drug-testing policy needed for hiring new teachers in SAD 28? The district’s board of directors discussed the matter, then tabled action on it Tuesday night.

The board will consult with area substance abuse counselor Daniel Domench.

Chairman Ann Cole said the policy committee recommended that a drug-testing policy not be started for new teachers.

The tests are simply too easy to beat, Cole said. If a person abstains from drugs for two to three weeks and alcohol for a few hours, no trace will be found by testing, Cole said. The test will only identify those with very serious abuse problems, unable to abstain from drug use.

The tests would place the burden of proof on the applicant and dissolve the presumption of innocence, she said. The bond of trust and confidence between the board and new people would be lost.

Instead, the policy committee suggested a rigorous reference check and a comprehensive anti-abuse policy.

No school district in Maine employs a drug-testing policy, according to Superintendent Thomas Marx.

Both Robert Bender and David Farley supported a testing program. “There is nothing wrong with it, in this day and age,” Bender said. It would mesh with a program which encourages youths to avoid drugs and a smilar program has worked at his firm, Marine Colloids, he said.

Cole and Rick Ash were against the new policy. Members Sarah Fasoldt and Andy Rheault said they had not made a decision and wanted input from the drug counselor. Andy Shapiro did not attend the session.

Marx reported that district enrollment was 1,441, an increase of 33 over last year. That is 118 more than five years ago, but 204 less than 16 years ago.

Camden-Rockport High School Principal John Shaw told the board Monday night that the district’s math program needs “strong ” revision but that neither he, nor any member of the math department has the time to undertake the task.

While college bound students get an adequate math program, those not in the college preparatory program do not, Shaw said. The math program was referred to the policy and school-improvement committees.

The district was informed that a school bus chassis it ordered was 20 inches longer than the body which was supposed to cover it. Marx said the district made a mistake in the bid specifications, but it should have been caught by the bid winner, O’Connor Motors. It will cost $870 to rectify the mistake. Exactly who will pay has yet to be determined.

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