Evaluating Drug Policies - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Evaluating Drug Policies

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Many parents and community members are questioning the drug policy at the Waterloo School District. In the past month, police have arrested two coaches from east high school on drug-related charges.

Head football coach Antonio Mays was arrested Monday night after police found marijuana in his pocket.

The district said, its drug policies are as strict as Iowa's law allows them to be. Every person who makes it to the interview process at waterloo schools is required to pass a drug test. But once the employee is hired, they are not subject to future routine or random tests.

The district's contracts with employee unions bans it from performing random drug checks. However, if the superintendent has a reason to suspect an employee is violating the drug-free policy, he can require them to take a test immediately.

Waterloo Community Schools representative Sharon Miller said she expects educators to realize their students are looking up to them. And coaches like Mays need to hold themselves accountable.

"They are role models. And we do have very high expectations for them - they have high expectations for themselves. It's a position that carries a lot of responsibility," she said.

Every employee at Waterloo schools - be it teacher, coach, or maintenence worker - is required to work under a strict substance-free policy. They are banned from using, making, or possessing illegal drugs or alcohol at school, or during school functions. If, like Mays, they are arrested on a drug-related charge, they must report it immediately.

"When there's an impact on their ability to do their job, then it's going to require a pretty drastic response," Miller said.

But, a drastic response does not necessarily mean termination. The superintendent has a choice to allow the employee to enroll in an abuse treatment program.

Miller explained, "we know that there is a prevalence of use of illegal drugs and alcohol in our society as a whole, and we don't expect that our employees are immune to some of those issues."

Allowing an educator to get help for their addiction is one way the school is working to have a strong, and fair, drug-free policy. Miller said they are continuing to evaluate it. One school board member added, the issue is likely to come up at Thursday's work session.

Although he coached at Waterloo East High, Mays teaching position is funded under Iowa Jobs for America's Graduates. Officials said he has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an investigation. Mays has not resigned that position.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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