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7000 Series - Personnel » 7240 Drug-Free and Alcohol-Free Workplace

7240 Drug-Free and Alcohol-Free Workplace

The Wilkes County Board of Education is committed to a safe working environment and to making adequate provisions for the safety and health of its employees in the workplace. The Board of Education regards its personnel as individuals as well as employees. The Board of Education believes that alcoholism and drug addiction are illnesses and that it should offer appropriate assistance to those employees who develop alcoholism or other drug addictions.

At the same time, the Board of Education is responsible for the instruction and well-being of the students entrusted to its care. It must communicate a consistent message that the abuse of alcohol, the use of illegal drugs, and the misuse of prescription drugs are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated in the workplace.

The Board of Education recognizes that substance abuse in our nation and our community exacts staggering costs in both human and economic terms. Substance abuse can be reasonably expected to produce impaired job performance, lost productivity, absenteeism, accidents, wasted materials, lowered morale, rising healthcare costs, and diminished interpersonal relationship skills. The Board of Education and its employees share a commitment to create and maintain an alcohol-free and drug-free workplace.

I. Policy Goals and Objectives

  1. To establish, promote, and maintain a safe, healthy working and learning environment for employees and students.
  2. To aid the affected employee in locating a rehabilitation program for employees with a self-admitted or detected substance abuse problem.
  3. To promote the reputation of the Wilkes County Schools and its employees as responsible citizens of public trust and employment.
  4. To eliminate substance abuse problems in the workplace.
  5. To aid in the reduction of absenteeism, tardiness, and substandard job performance.
  6. To provide a clear standard of job performance for school employees.
  7. To provide a consistent model of substance-free behavior for students.

II. Definitions

As used in this policy, the following definitions shall apply:
  1. "Controlled substance" means any substance or immediate precursor (1) included in Schedules I through VI of the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (N.C. Gen Stat. §90-86 et seq.) and/or (2) included in the United States Controlled Substances Act (21 U, S.C. 801 et seq.) and/or its implementing regulations (Title 21, Code of Federal Regulation, Parts 1300-1300).
  2. "Conviction" means a finding of guilt, a plea of guilty including a plea of no-contest, or imposition of sentence, or both, by any judicial body charged with the responsibility to determine violations of the federal or state criminal drug statutes.
  3. "Criminal Drug Law" means a federal or non-federal criminal statute involving the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of any controlled substance.
  4. "Drug" or "illegal drug" means (1) a controlled substance as defined in Schedules I through VI of the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, (2) a controlled substance as defined in the United States Controlled Substances Act, or (3) any other drug, substance, or immediate precursor the possession, use, or distribution of which is prohibited by federal or state law or regulation.
  5. "Illegal use of drugs" means the use of drugs, the possession or distribution of which is unlawful under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C.A. 812). Such term does not include the use of a drug taken under the supervision of a licensed health care professional or other uses authorized by the Controlled Substances Act.
  6. "Prohibited substance" means (1) a drug or illegal drug as defined herein, (2) any alcoholic beverage, malt beverage, fortified wine, or other intoxicating liquor, (3) any prescription drug or over-the-counter product possessed or used for the purpose or intent of inducing a state of intoxication, exhilaration, euphoria or other alteration of a person’s mood or behavior, (4) any counterfeit (fake) controlled substance or other substance intentionally misrepresented as a controlled substance, an illegal drug, an alcoholic beverage, a prescription drug, or an over-the-counter product that would induce a state of intoxication, exhilaration, euphoria or other alteration of a person's mood or behavior, (5) any chemical compound which will induce, or is intended to induce, a state of intoxication, exhilaration, euphoria or other alteration of a person's mood or behavior, or (6) any drug paraphernalia as defined by N. C. Gen. Stat. § 90.113.21.
  7. "Substance abuse" means the misuse or illicit use of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances, including marijuana, heroin, or cocaine.
  8. "Superintendent" means the Superintendent of the Wilkes County Schools and/or his/her designee.
  9. "Workplace" means the site for the performance of work done for the Wilkes County Schools including any place where work on a Wilkes County Schools program, project, or activity is performed, including, but not limited to, a school building or other school premises and any school-owned vehicle or any other school-approved vehicle used to transport students to and from school or school activities. "Workplace" also means school-sponsored or school-approved activities, events, or functions that are held off school property and in which students are under Wilkes County Schools jurisdiction including, but not limited to, field trips and athletic events.

III. Prohibited Employee Conduct

No employee of the Wilkes County Schools shall manufacture, distribute, dispense, be under the influence of, purchase, possess, use, or attempt to purchase or obtain in the workplace or in the performance of duties (a) alcohol, (b) any narcotic drug, controlled substance, or illegal drug, or (c) any prohibited substance.

No employee of the Wilkes County Schools while on duty shall use or take prescription drugs above the level recommended by his/her prescribing physician or use prescribed drugs for any purpose other than for which they are intended.

IV. Employee Drug Testing Program

  1. Pre-employment Testing
All applicants for employment shall be required to submit to a urinalysis test for the detection of illegal use of drugs, as part of the required post-offer, pre-employment physical. Applicants will be given a copy of this policy in advance of the post-offer, pre-employment physical.
Applicants shall acknowledge having read or had this policy explained to them and should understand that, as a condition of employment, they are subject to the contents of this policy and the employee drug-testing program. They shall sign an acknowledgment prior to substance screening, permitting the summary result to be transmitted to the Superintendent. An applicant refusing to complete any part of the drug testing procedure shall not be considered a valid candidate for employment with the Wilkes County Schools, and such refusal shall be considered as a withdrawal of the individual's application for employment. The individual shall not be permitted to reapply for employment with the Wilkes County Schools for at least twelve (12) months and may be required to prove that the applicant is not engaged in illegal drug use.
If substance screening shows a confirmed positive result for which there is no current physician's prescription, a second confirming test may be requested by the Superintendent or by the applicant. If the first or any requested second confirming test is positive, any job offer shall be revoked.
  1. Reasonable Suspicion Testing
If the Superintendent reasonably suspects that an employee's work performance or on-the-job behavior may have been affected in any way by alcohol, drugs, or other prohibited substance or that an employee has otherwise violated this policy, the Superintendent may require the employee to submit to a breath, urine or any alternative method for lab-based testing for drug and alcohol testing. When a supervisor observes or is notified of behaviors or events that lead the supervisor to believe that the employee is in violation of this policy, the supervisor shall notify the Superintendent. An employee who is required to submit to drug/alcohol testing based on reasonable suspicion and refuses to do so shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination and shall be considered a positive test result.
An employee who tests positive on a reasonable suspicion test shall be in violation of this policy. Such violation shall constitute grounds for termination in accordance with Board of Education policy and state law.
The Superintendent shall make the determination that reasonable suspicion or cause exists to order an alcohol/drug test and may order an employee to submit to a drug screen.
Reasonable suspicion testing procedures may be involved for either chronic (deteriorating job performance or changes in personal traits or characteristics in which the use of alcohol or drugs may be reasonably suspected) and/or acute (appearing in a specific incident or observation to under the influence of alcohol or drugs) cases involving prohibited behaviors. Prior to substance screening, the employee shall sign a form acknowledging that the results shall be transmitted to the Superintendent.
Alcohol and/or drug testing shall be conducted in accordance with the process utilized by the Board of Education approved, independent, certified laboratory using recognized techniques and procedures as set out in the Wilkes County Schools employee drug testing plan.
  1. Return-to-Duty Testing
An employee who has been given the opportunity to undergo rehabilitation for alcohol/drugs shall, as a condition of returning to duty, be required to agree to reasonable follow-up testing as designated by the Superintendent. The extent and duration of the follow-up testing shall depend upon the safety or security nature of the employee’s position and the nature and extent of the employee’s substance abuse problem. The Superintendent shall review the conditions of continued employment with the employee prior to his/her return to work. Such conditions for continued employment shall be given to the employee in writing. The Superintendent may consult with the employee’s rehabilitation program personnel in determining appropriate follow-up testing, including the frequency of any substance screening.
Any employee subject to return to duty testing who has a confirmed positive drug test shall be in violation of this policy.  Such violation constitutes grounds for discipline up to and including termination in accordance with Board of Education policy and state law.
  1. Operation of Motor Vehicles
The Board of Education endorses the Federal Highway Administration's anti-drug policy and regulation for all employees required to possess a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). Alcohol and drug testing shall be an integral part of the program with pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, random, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing mandated. Non-compliance with this policy or a violation of Federal Highway Administration regulations shall result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with Board of Education policy and state law.
All persons who operate motor vehicles owned or leased by the Board of Education in order to fulfill their employment responsibilities shall be subject to random alcohol/drug testing.
  1. Post-Accident Testing
The Superintendent at his discretion may require an alcohol and/or drug test to be performed following a workplace accident or injury.
  1. Testing Procedures
The Superintendent shall by administrative regulation establish specific procedures for conducting the alcohol/drug testing authorized by this policy. Testing shall be conducted by a licensed independent certified laboratory using recognized techniques and procedures.
  1. Confidentiality
Records that pertain to required substance screens are recognized to be private and sensitive records. They shall be maintained by the Superintendent in a secure fashion to ensure confidentiality and privacy and be disclosed only to the extent necessary to address any work-related safety risks occasioned by either the alcohol/drug use. Medical records and related medical information shall be maintained in accordance with provisions of applicable federal and state law and used with the highest regard for employee privacy consistent with law and the purpose of achieving and maintaining an alcohol and drug-free workplace. All personnel records and information regarding referral, evaluation, testing results, and treatment shall be maintained in a confidential manner.
  1. Disciplinary Action
Any employee in violation of the terms of this policy and the Wilkes County Schools' alcohol and drug testing program shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment. A violation may be reported to law enforcement officials.
In determining whether and to what extent an employee shall be discharged or otherwise disciplined for a violation of this policy, the Superintendent shall consider the following factors:
  • The degree to which the nature of the violation reduces the ability to maintain a safe working environment;
  • The degree to which the nature of the violation unreasonably endangers the safety of other employees and/or students;
  • The degree to which the violation unreasonably undermines public confidence in the operation of the Wilkes County Schools;
  • The nature of the violation;
  • The nature of the employee's job with the Wilkes County Schools;
  • The existence of any explanatory or mitigating facts or circumstances;
  • The employee's cooperation with the investigation of the policy violation; and
  • Any other facts relevant to the employee including, but not limited to, years of service and record of performance with the Wilkes County Schools.
  1. Alternative Disciplinary Action
As an alternative, the Superintendent may choose that an employee who violates the terms of this policy shall satisfactorily participate in an approved alcohol/drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program at the employee's expense. If the employee fails to satisfactorily participate in such a program, the employee may be suspended, non-renewed, or terminated. The Wilkes County Schools employee drug-testing program shall establish procedures for rehabilitation.
The fact that an employee has been referred for assistance and demonstrates willingness or ability to rehabilitate shall be appropriate consideration as to what, if any, personnel action may be taken.
Information concerning available counseling, rehabilitation, and re-entry programs will be provided to employees. Any illegal drug activity will be reported to law enforcement authorities.

V. Notification by Employee

An employee must notify the superintendent or designee in writing of any arrest, charge, or conviction under any criminal drug statute. Notification must be given no later than the next scheduled business day after such arrest, charge, or conviction unless the employee is hospitalized or incarcerated, in which case the employee must report the alleged violation within 24 hours after his or her release. The notification must be given before the employee reports to work. Within 10 days of receiving notice of a criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace by an employee whose position is funded in any part by a federal grant, the superintendent or designee shall notify the funding agency of the conviction. "Conviction" as used in this policy includes the entry in a court of law or military tribunal of (1) a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, no contest, or the equivalent; (2) a verdict or finding of guilty; or (3) a prayer for judgment continued (“PJC”) or a deferred prosecution.
Legal References:  21 U.S.C. 812; 41 U.S.C. 8101 et seq.; 21 C.F.R. 1300.01–.04 and 1308.11-15; G.S. 20-138.2B; 115C-36
Cross References:  Drug and Alcohol Testing of Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators (policy 7241), Staff Responsibilities (policy 7300)
Adopted:  January 9, 2006
Revised:  September 6, 2011; May 3, 2021