After all that has gone on in the Riverhead school district’s three towns (Riverhead, Brookhaven and Southhampton) over the last few years — a physician assistant getting arrested for drug-dealing; a councilman being arrested for drug-dealing stating he has an addiction; and staff members getting In my opinion badgearrested for all kinds of things, including the ones that never get in the paper — I went before the Riverhead school board on Nov. 24 and asked them to put into each and every staff contract that drug testing could be done without warning.

That is to say, we would institute a random drug testing program.

A suggestion like this will fall on the teachers union like a lead balloon, but right now any teacher or any other staff member only gets tested once when they get their background check, before they are hired.

Yes, only once, and yet they can be employed for years.

I am asking for this change in policy not because I want to embarrass anyone or insult any of our employees. This is a safety issue for the employees and the health and safety for our children, the children i’ve been advocating about for a very long time despite the fact that my two children have both graduated.

As we all know, addiction hits all levels of life. Addiction does not discriminate — whether you are rich or poor, male or female, a mother, teacher, CEO, councilman. Addiction has no conscience and doesn’t care how many it takes down.

Is it right that a student gets suspended or expelled from school due to drug use by someone who may be a possible drug user? We don’t know unless they get caught. How hypocritical it is for a school district to hold a student to a certain standard when it comes to addiction, but not to those the student looks up to, those who are supposed to be role models.

When students read in the paper that one of people they looked up to was arrested but keeps their job, while another gets fired, it shows that the district is not being consistent in holding employees accountable, but is quick to hold a 15-year-old accountable.

Drug testing is a fact of life for employees today. Why not employees in our schools come into daily contact with our children?

Addiction is a horrible thing and like I said it hits all. If you are going to hold our children to a high standard then why not our staff?

This is a change that will only bring improvement to our school environment.


Laurie Downs is a resident of Riverhead.

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