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Substance Abuse Policy a Concern for Warren BOE

Change to policy for employee substance abuse doesn't meet board members' criteria.

A revision of the Warren Township School District's policy on employee substance abuse was returned to the board of education's Policy Committee for a second time at Monday night's meeting, as board members seek to find policy language that is flexible, fair and protective.

The board had discused the policy in December, but several members believed added language inserted in the policy at the recommendation of the New Jersey School Boards Association did not allow enough flexibility in the possible penalties for first time offenders.

After further review and consultation with the board's attorneys, the policy committee recommended changes that included options for the superintendent to apply in cases of first-time offenders.

But board Vice-President Don Huber noted the policy still does not outline the disciplinary action that may be possible after a first offense, which could include drug testing.

"What I did not see in this policy was some kind of language that is saying...that the superintendent...is going to look at the circumstances of each case and nothing in the policy should restrict the superintendent from taking administrative or dsiciplinary action, even at the first level," Huber said.

He said the policy should indicate that everything from suspension to termination may be possible even for first time offenders.

Huber also wanted to the policy to include language specifying that punishment for other offenses committed while under the influence of drugs would not be limited by punishments for the abuse itself.

"What (this) basically says is that if an employee violates this policy, and action is taken by the administration to deal with it, it doesn't exempt the employee from being punished if in the course of that, they broke a window or did something really crazy," he added.

When asked by board President Mildred Spiller if he had brought the suggestions to the policy committee, of which he is a member, when it discussed the policy, Huber said "I actually thought I did."

But because the changes were too substantial to be made without further legal review, the board sent the matter back to the committee.

LB January 23, 2013 at 04:39 AM
There should only be FIRST time offenders--have a zero tolerance policy! There's no place in our district for substance abusers!

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