Hawaii's Public Teachers Could Face Random Drug Testing

Roger Takabayashi
Roger Takabayashi

KALIHI (KHNL) - Reading, writing, 'rithmetic, and now random drug testing. It could be a reality if Hawaii's public school teachers approve a new contract. The state made it a mandatory, non-negotiable component. This means teachers can either accept the contract as is, or reject it.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association's contract includes a four percent raise in each of the next two years, but the focus is on random drug testing.

Hawaii's schools: institutions of learning. But recently they've received as much attention for alleged drug violations by teachers as academic excellence.

So in the new teachers' contract, the state's mandating random drug testing. Students at Farrington High School on Oahu say they support it.

"I think it's good that teachers get drug tested because, you know, some teachers they get caught for selling drugs at school so they don't give it to kids and be a bad influence," said Jennifer de la Cruz, a senior at Farrington High School.

But the HSTA calls the move a knee-jerk reaction.

"I think it's a reactionary measure because of the recent incidents where four teachers were arrested or thought to have been involved with drugs," said Roger Takabayashi, HSTA president.

Students say most teachers should have nothing to worry about.

"It shouldn't affect them because they shouldn't be doing drugs anyway," said de la Cruz.

Teachers at Farrington did not want to be interviewed, but one did talk to KHNL News 8 off camera. She said she welcomes random drug testing, but wants it to be more broad-based, to include all employees at the department of education.

Students agree, saying drug abuse impacts more than those who do it. They say teachers should keep in mind the impact they have on students' lives.

"It's not appropriate for the teachers to get caught doing drugs, smoking drugs, selling drugs," said Jackie Tadeo, a senior at Farrington High School. "It makes the students thinks it's all right for them to do it, too."

A message, they hope, reaches some wayward teachers.

HSTA represents about 13,000 teachers. Members will vote on the contract Thursday.