A WWYD Situation?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Love2TeachKids, Jan 24, 2015.

  1. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    Jan 24, 2015

    I'm a semi-regular poster on this forum but created a new alias for the purpose of this discussion.

    So a colleague of mine apparently has been showing up to work under the influence of drugs (not marijuana). The students picked up on it as well as many staff members. Administration saw it themselves too and as of right now no one is sure if this person can or will return.

    Please note that they can't drug test this person, as stated in the union contract, so other than blatant observations of off behavior no one can officially say the person is on drugs.

    So here's my question, What would you have done if you noticed?

    Has this ever happened to anyone before?
     
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  3. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Are you sure your union contract says absolutely no drug testing, or no random drug testing? I think it would be a little unusual to ban drug testing altogether. Requiring a drug test for someone who seems so obviously impaired is not random and should be allowed.
     
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    If admin is already aware of it, I'd leave it to them to handle it. If they're not, I guess I'd report inappropriate behavior that I had witnessed, depending on how severely inappropriate it was. With or without a drug test, if the behavior becomes unacceptable, I'm sure the admin have grounds to document and dismiss without proof that it is due to drugs. Are we talking heavily medicated on pain killers due to an injury or something, or are we talking about illegal drugs?
     
  5. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    In speaking to someone who knows the union laws in my state, teachers can not be drug tested.

    It is definietly not prescribed pain killers, the person does not have any injuries. The persons reasoning for odd behavior does not match up with their behavior. Other teachers observations of what this person was doing links to side effects of illegal drugs.
     
  6. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    I can almost guarantee that there is no state that bans drug testing of teachers when warranted. There may be a ban on random drug testing in your state, but not an absolute ban.
     
  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Personally, I would report it if you are that confident about it.
     
  8. bros

    bros Phenom

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    That's what i'm thinking too. There could be a ban on random drug testing, which is reasonable. Having a ban on any and all drug testing on teachers, on the other hand, is completely and utterly ridiculous - imagine the backlash from parents if they learned that was in the contract with the teachers.
     
  9. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    Same rule as the students have when "telling-on" a friend:
    1. Are you in danger?
    2. Is anyone else in danger?

    If the answer is no, then it is not your business. Admin knows. They will do their jobs. You do yours. As I tell my kids "Not my circus, not my monkeys".
     
  10. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Honestly, I probably would have spoken privately with our school nurse who would have met with the teacher and reported her suspicions (or not).
     
  11. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    Can't drug test without "reasonable suspicion" here, which obviously it is reasonable, but the union rep said they can't force the person at least not at the moment. I think without starting a "paperwork process" such things can't be enforced since no students were harmed (thankfully).

    It's such a tricky situation. On one hand it's not like the person went and showed anyone they had drugs on them. So assuming from drug induced like behavior, the staff kept wondering and questioning it. Nobody wants to be accusatory without hardcore proof. I think even administration is baffled and not sure how to go about it.

    One thing is for certain, this person should not be around kids if they come to work under the influence.
     
  12. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    What if this person works with directly with multiple teachers and classes? What if the the person simply hasn't been doing their job because of the odd behavior?

    It's more than the suspicion of drug use (which is the main cause), it's effecting staff members who have to work directly with this person.
     
  13. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    It seems most people agree that if your admin is aware of the problem, it's best to let them handle it.

    It's also wise not to suggest to admin that the colleague is abusing drugs without having evidence. There are physical and psychological conditions that have symptoms in common with drug abuse. If that was the case, and someone accused him of illegal drug use, the accuser could be in for a world of hurt.

    Also, with regard to pain killers, one needn't have an obvious injury to use pain killers.
     
  14. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    If someone is not doing their job, the admin deals with it. Again, not your business. Your job is to DO your job, not worry about other people. And like comaba said, pain killers are for more than obvious injuries.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'd be hesitant to allege drug abuse without proof, especially since I'm not necessarily qualified to diagnose drug abuse - but I'd be less hesitant to tell admin that I'm concerned about the colleague's behavior (if I've witnessed something troubling) or concerned about what I'm hearing about the colleague's behavior (if others, especially credible students, have reported troubling behavior to me) and think the situation warrants looking into.
     
  16. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

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    I agree with many of the previous posters. Unless I had specific, relevant, and additional information and/or I had good reason to be concerned about the immediate well being of that teacher or their students, I'd stay out of it.

    No point in getting yourself caught in the middle of something this serious unless absolutely necessary.
     
  17. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    I totally agree. But misuse of pain killers is also drug abuse, while maybe not illegal, still very concerning if it impacts your ability to perform at your job, especially with children.

    I care more about student safety than anything. It shouldn't be a wait until something happens that students are put in danger if there were warning signs and nobody said anything. That's where the moral thoughts come in of whether something should have been said.

    It's not an easy situation to be involved in. But it interesting to see what others would do if presented with the same predicament.

    Either way it's being handled/investigated so I'm not looking for advice. Just thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss.
     
  18. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    Just make sure it's being handle the best way possible. In a union state, I would think there's a protocol in place to make sure employee has resources but in a right to work state-- not really. This reminded me of a news segment at the beginning of school where a teacher was exhibiting odd behavior during a preservice and the police was called right away. It hit the news with the teachers name so Im thinking the teacher lost her job immediately. Don't have all the details and such but wow, I would hate to be under the 'firing squad' without due process.
     
  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Depending on the behaviors, the police may become involved if she is driving under the influence. They can certainly insist on a drug test. Many people assume that DUI is strictly alcohol, but any drug, prescribed or illegally obtained, that alters the mental state of a driver to the point of creating a danger on the road is considered fair game. I am not advocating calling the police on her, but should her behavior become more erratic or odd, that would/could be a last line of defense. There are so many medications that are fine on their own, but when taken with a second drug, they become a danger to the user, impairing judgement. Here's hoping that admin does take care of the situation so that her behaviors cease to be a topic of conversation and speculation. If her behaviors cause a police officer to question whether or not she is fit to be behind the wheel, it will become a civil matter, and be out of the hands of the school.
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is what I'm thinking.

    I might also add in another option: Did you personally witness this person doing drugs?

    Some behaviors caused by mental illness can look like behaviors caused by drugs. I would be hard-pressed to accuse someone of drug use, potentially destroying their reputation, when I don't know for certain.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    If the person hasn't been doing their job, then admin should start the termination process based on that. If admin is acting like a lame-duck and not proceeding with that, then anything that happens as the result of this person's behavior is admin's own fault.
     
  22. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    If it's impacting your ability to do your job, then you have conversation about that impact directly with that person. (This doesn't mean that you accuse him/her of drug use. It means you inform him/her that you haven't been able to do your job and provide specific examples of what he/she has been failing to do - again, not mentioning that you suspect drug use is the cause for that.)

    My admin have a strict "go to the person you have an issue with first" policy. Well, maybe it's not strict, as they often intervene earlier if someone failed to follow the policy, but they have the policy just the same. So, I would do what I described above, and, if I was uncomfortable doing so, then I'd have to let it go.

    Now, if you have that conversation with your colleague and nothing changes, then I'd say it's acceptable to go to your admin. Again, though, keep the conversation focused on how it is impacting your ability to do your job. Say nothing of suspected drug abuse.
     
  23. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    What drug/s do people think this teacher is taking?
     
  24. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Here's another way to look at things...

    Remove the "teacher" status for a moment. If it was just a parent of a student, would you report that parent to CPS? The student's well being is compromised by the parent's possible use of drugs. As a teacher, it is your responsibility to report it.

    NOW, put the "teacher" status back in. This teacher's possible drug abuse is compromising SEVERAL students in your school. Why not report it through CPS or the local D.A. if nothing seems to be going on with the local admin?

    Just a thought.
     
  25. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    It amazes me how many teachers do not have this mindset. Looking the other way since it is "someone else's responsibility" is the exact opposite of what I want my kids to learn.
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    If I saw a teacher acting oddly in a manner that impacted students, I might say something out of concern, but I certainly wouldn't ascribe my suspicions of reason or motive. I would talk to the teacher first to see if he or she is ok, and then, if I am still concerned, just mention the behavior and concern for the teacher and the students to the administration.
     
  27. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Excellent point. 25 years ago (about when I started teaching), if someone said, hey I know of a teacher that is inappropriately touching his students too much, I know the mindset of many teachers was, "It is none of your business." So much child abuse went unreported in the 1980s and 1990s because of this mindset. Teachers on drugs at school can be dangerous to their students. Student safety is always a part of a teacher's business.
     
  28. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Yep. Most of the time the reason for not stepping in as an adult is similar to the reasons that children don't step in. Fear of what will happen to you if you step in.
     
  29. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    The person apparently was already under the radar of admin. The teachers who noticed things took it upon themselves to watch closely in an attempt to gather information that lined up with their suspicions.

    Also the persons physical appearance was obviously deteriorating, not just behavior. Don't know what drugs are suspected, but concluding from knowledge it had to be something hardcore.

    For example, drugs like meth or heroin effect a persons appearance pretty fast.
     
  30. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    Exactly my thoughts. It's a very uncomfortable situation to address when you're an untenured teacher possibly making accusations against another colleague. No one wants to risk their job over something you don't have solid proof of. And let's not remove work place politics from that. What if this was a beloved teacher with tenure? What if it was someone with connections to the school board or community?
     
  31. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    What you are describing can also be the result of several mental health issues, so it is important to have some facts. Many patients with these issues may visually present with almost identical outward behaviors, including the change in appearance. People who may have a brain tumor growing can show bizarre changes, and yet, unless you are a medical professional who has been made aware of the changes, there may be no diagnosis.

    I would hope that this individual is evaluated for multiple potential causes in her changes of appearance and behaviors. Otherwise, how is she supposed to find the help she needs? I would, however, make sure that I didn't jump on the drug user bandwagon without concrete proof. And yes, I would protect the students from bizarre behavior, whatever the cause, but I would not make a diagnosis that I am not qualified to make.
     
  32. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    I bet this^ is what most, if not all, of us would do.

    This thread is a little disconcerting to me, not because of the responses, but because it's all conjecture in the first place. The OP never said the person is a teacher. The OP implied that others had witnessed concerning behavior, and it impacted others' jobs. The OP said admin is aware. How does OP know the admin doesn't know what to do? Does admin speak to the staff about these issues??

    Sorry, I just don't understand the point of the thread. No one knows who did or did not report the behavior to the admin. No one knows what's being done about it. Heck, in the first post, the OP said the colleague may not be back in school!
     
  33. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    And now, after reading the posts I missed when I was writing my previous post, I feel like I'm in the staff lounge gossiping about another teacher with whom I have little actual interaction or knowledge.
     
  34. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I actually had this happen to me once. My (then) principal pulled me aside and said that I had developed a reputation among the faculty as a drug user. I asked why, and she said, "you always seem to be in a hurry, and not very focused, and someone saw you pop a pill in the lounge once." I was shocked. The pill I took was an Aleve for a massive headache. I was always in a hurry and not focused because the school was a wrong fit for me and I was stressed beyond my limit. This interaction did not help! That same year I was diagnosed with hypertension and put on a beta blocker which significantly improved my coping abilities. But, for the rest of the year, I was looking over my shoulder wondering what else my coworkers thought of me. When I didn't get a transfer I applied for, my principal said it may be because my "reputation was spreading." (I don't think that was it, because I later got a transfer to one of the top schools in the district...) But these kinds of rumors and accusations can really stick with someone, so be careful before you accuse, or even suggest.
     
  35. Love2TeachKids

    Love2TeachKids Rookie

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    I'm trying to keep most of the details broad as you may never know who is on these boards.

    The point of the thread was to ask other professionals what they would do if faced with this situation. And has anyone gone through something similar.
     
  36. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If I had a concern about a colleague's behavior, I'd talk to them and then talk to admin. After talking to admin, unless I saw escalating behavior (or admin indicated that I should continue alerting them to concerning behavior), I'd drop it. If I saw escalating behavior that put students in jeopardy and admin was sitting on their hands, I'd make a CPS referral. At no point would I bring up the possibility of drugs unless either the colleague told me they were on drugs, I saw them taking drugs, or I had some concrete evidence they were on drugs.
     
  37. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    All of the supposed details you added have only served to confuse a simple question. That is, if you observed concerning behavior that may affect students, what would you do?

    Including all the staff gossip only confuses the issue, and I find it totally inappropriate.
     
  38. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I think that all of the gossip and inclination to assume this could "only" mean drugs are involved makes me very glad I don't work in this district. Staff gossip always annoys me, anyway, since it is based on what others think they know about another's situation, when they may well be totally clueless. Heaven save us from the gossip!
     
  39. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Sorry this happened to you, but thanks for sharing your cautionary tale. Hopefully, it will deter someone from participating in staff gossip.
     
  40. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I really wouldn't know what to do except report any inappropriate actions to administration. It us up to them to discipline staff. Could you get a few people to anonymously call in or write to HR? Maybe that would "give cause" for the drug testing? Otherwise I would stay out of it and let them handle it.
     
  41. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Exactly - it is not my business.

    Also, I do not like to mess with people's jobs; I am not the boss.
     

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