Hawaii: State’s 13,000 Teachers To Be Subjected To Random Drug Testing

Honolulu, HI: Hawaii public school teachers have ratified new contract provisions that include random drug testing for the islands’ 13,000 teachers. Members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s Board of Director’s had previously approved the provisions – which state government officials added to the contracts following the recent arrests of a handful of school officials on drug-related charges.

It’s been estimated that the new random testing program will cost Hawaii’s taxpayers close to $100,000 annually.

Approximately 61 percent of teachers who participated in last week’s vote approved the drug testing measure. The new two-year contracts will also give teachers a pay raise. Officials from the Hawaii Governor’s office strongly pushed for the drug testing provisions, stating that any new contact offered by the state would have to include a clause for testing teachers.

Protocols for the drug-testing program have yet to be developed, and still need to be negotiated by the teachers union and the state Department of Education.

In 1989, the US Supreme Court determined that randomly drug testing certain federal and/or state employees does not violate the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

However, in 1998, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that public school teachers, teacher’s aids, and clerical workers cannot be drug tested absent individualized suspicion (United Teachers of New Orleans v. Orleans Parish School Board), though more recent rulings have upheld such testing policies.

Hawaii’s policy will likely face a similar legal challenge.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.