LACONIA — The Laconia School Board's consideration of a mandatory drug testing for school bus drivers prompted questions of whether of other School Department employees should be subject to the same test as well.
The issue arose last night as the board took up a proposed policy requiring drug and alcohol tests for all bus drivers.
"Is there any reason we test only bus drivers?" board member Scott Vachon asked. "We have a lot of other people working in our schools who have direct contact with students."
School District Business Administrator Ed Emond said there was no requirement that teachers or other district employees submit to such tests.
Board member Beth Arsenault, who is also a state legislator, said she would inquire what state law or state Department of Education regulations say regarding a local district's ability to adopt such a policy.
Some on the board indicated that if a drug and alcohol testing policy were to be broadened that it would be subject to negotiation with the various collective bargaining units representing teachers and other unionized district employees.
The policy for school bus drivers received a first reading last night. The board will need to take it up a second time before it can be voted on.
The board did give unanimous approval to a policy regarding bomb threats. The policy states that the district will report to police the name of any student suspected of making a threat and that the student found to have made a threat will face disciplinary action, in addition to any criminal punishment. If a threat requires the evacuation of a school building no one will be allowed back into the building unless the superintendent or someone the superintendent designates gives approval.
NOTES: The board heard a presentation on the life skills program for special education students at the middle and high schools. As part of the presentation middle school student Hannah Harris demonstrated how she uses an electronic audio device to communicate, and Mark Lagueux, a high school student, told the board how the program has given him the skills that will help him get a job. . . . . . Arsenault noted that bills presently before the Legislature include one that would extend the school year to 190 days. Another bill would establish a dedicated fund for school robotics programs. . . . . . Resident and retired teacher Richard Coggon informed the board that former district Assistant Superintendent Al Blastos has died. Blastos served as assistant superintendent in the 1970s. . . . . . Coggon also drew the board's attention to the fact that Hoboken, N.J., Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who is now in the national news spotlight, is a 1986 graduate of Laconia High School. Last week Zimmer charged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration conditioned Superstorm Sandy relief money for Hoboken to her support for a redevelopment project proposed by a company with ties to Christie. Her allegations, which the governor's administration has denied, have added a new dimension to allegations of hardball politics gone awry in New Jersey under Christie's leadership.