Board practice was "unfair, senseless, illegal and unconstitutional"
(Baton Rouge – June 1, 2009) Baton Rouge teachers, and their colleagues around the state, won a big victory in court last week. For years, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has required teachers and school employees who were injured on the job to submit to a drug test.
Even if their injuries were sustained in an attack by students. Even if there was absolutely no reason to suspect drug abuse was a factor.
If you were hurt, your first obligation was to fill the little plastic bottle.
It was wrong on so many levels. Most importantly, it was illegal - the case had been decided in court, but in another jurisdiction. Because the decision wasn't rendered in a Baton Rouge district court, the board felt justified in continuing the practice.
So even though the result was pretty much a foregone conclusion, the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers and the American Civil Liberties Union were forced to file suit.
The suit has been decided in favor of the Federation. Attorneys for both sides signed a consent decree before Judge James Brady of the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge.
The agreement locked in several important rights for teachers:
- Teachers will no longer undergo drug testing following an accident or injury unless there is reasonable suspicion that intoxication played a part .
- Teachers injured on the job may be treated by their own medical doctor before being examined by a medical facility chosen by the school board.
- Teachers who are eligible for assault pay do not have to forgo a portion of their salary or sick days.
- The agreement confirms teachers' right to take two personal leave days for any reason, so long as they provide the notice required by state law.
East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers President Carnell Washington said of the agreement, "...it's a great day for our employees and all of our teachers in Baton Rouge. It's great that their rights will not be violated in the future."
Said Federation attorney Yigal Bander, "The School Board had a practice that was unfair, senseless, illegal and unconstitutional, and we put a stop to it.”
To read the ruling of the court, please click here.