BRADENTON — Every new hire in the Manatee School District including substitute teachers must now pass a drug test, the school board decided Monday night.
In a 4-0 vote, the board approved the policy during its regular meeting. Under the new rule, the district will pay for the cost of the drug tests — about $44 each. Testing begins immediately.
Before the board voted, Superintendent Tim McGonegal, who recommended the policy, told the board he felt strongly that pre-employment drug testing be mandatory. Current district employees are grandfathered in under the new rule.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, local resident Sharon Eddy said she was an advocate for the testing.
“To me your personal life has something to do with your job,” Eddy said.
Dave Minor also addressed the board, asking that board members set an example and be tested themselves.
“A lot of people feel like it’s an invasion of privacy ... so do it yourself,” Minor said. No one responded.
Robert Gause, school board member, was absent Monday night. But he previously has said the policy doesn’t go far enough. He favors requiring testing for existing employees to ensure they remain drug-free. That potential move was not discussed further on Monday.
Also Monday, the board recognized Technology Student Association students for winning various national awards.
Southeast High School students garnered six first place awards in robotics, architectural model, photography, construction systems, technical sketching and video on demand. Students at Haile Middle School won three first place awards in technology transfer, leadership and prepared speech. Braden River High School students won first place for the fastest dragster in the nation.
A complete list of recipient is available online at www.bradenton.com.
In other action the board:
n Named Jeff Harris the new principal of Central High School. Harris is a former assistant principal at Horizons Academy.
n Suspended without pay Tammy M. Johnson, 45, a senior secretary at Buffalo Creek Middle School and granted her an administrative hearing. District officials say Johnson used school property for personal business prior to the start of this school year.
Johnson, who worked for the district since February 2000, used a copy machine to promote an Education First trip to Washington, D.C. this summer. She also reportedly was drunk in front of students during the trip and allegedly came to school drunk on Aug. 14.
n Fired former Oneco Pre-Kindergarden teacher Karen M. Stolt, 52, for reporting to work Sept. 17, 2008 under the influence of prescription drugs Lortab and Soma and possessing Vicodin pills for which she did not have a prescription. At school, a co-worker observed Stolt “out of it,” unsteady and non-responsive, with her speech limited and slurred. When notified, the school nurse found a bottle of Vicodin in Stolt’s purse. She admitted she did not have a prescription for the pills.
n Postponed the approval of a naming rights contract that allows corporate sponsors to have their names attached to high school academies in the district. For $25,000, companies can buy one-year contracts with the board, a high school and a specific program in that school. The board wanted to discuss the idea at a workshop.