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Pre Employment Drug Tests

12.22.07



Pre Employment Drug Tests, originally uploaded by ShankillFalls.

Pre-employment drug tests are a ridiculous invasion of privacy and this is the first time I’ve seen this sort of ad in Ireland. In the US, of course, they are mandatory for everything.

Can Big Rig Drivers Beat Drug Tests?

12.22.07

Local 2 investigates potentially dangerous loopholes in federal drug testing laws. Our hidden cameras expose a flawed system that can allow drug addicts to get behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler or even a school bus. Local 2 investigative reporter Robert Arnold shows us how what we uncovered now has Congress and the industry demanding change.

We sent our hidden cameras to a Houston drug testing facility where we signed up to take an official Department of Transportation drug test. Federal law requires every driver to get a drug test before they’re allowed to drive an 18-wheeler, a school bus or any kind of commercial vehicle.

But before Local 2 went for the test, we were able to order drug-free urine off the Internet.

The kit Local 2 purchased came with a tube of dehydrated urine, a vial and a small heater. We mixed the powdered urine with water then used the heater to bring the sample up to the temperature of the human body.

At the collection facility, Arnold was ordered to take off his sport coat and place the contents of his pockets in a secure locker. That was the extent of the search, which meant no one at the facility knew Arnold had the vial of mail-order urine hidden as he entered the bathroom.

Once inside the bathroom, Arnold was allowed to close and lock the door, which allowed him to use the vial of mail-order urine as his sample for the drug test.

Arnold was then sent to a bathroom to provide a urine specimen for drug test.

A few days later the results of Arnold’s drug test came back negative. The mail-order urine passed with no problems at all.

The facility Local 2 tested did absolutely nothing wrong. Employees followed every procedure they are required to follow when collecting a specimen for a Department of Transportation drug test. Yet, Local 2 still found it easy to beat the test.

“Your investigation shows how easy it is to circumvent the law,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, who sits on Congress’ Transportation Committee.

“Those regulations were written based on the premise that the person giving the sample was going to be honest about it,” said Poe. “That’s not the world we live in.”

Poe said what concerns him is if Arnold had been a drug user, then that negative test would still allow him to drive an 18-wheeler, a school bus or any kind of commercial vehicle.

“When it’s so easy to circumvent the law, the law becomes meaningless,” said Poe.

“Whatever needs to be done to tighten the regulations to ensure that we don’t have anyone slip through the cracks like you did, then I think that needs to be addressed,” said Van O’Neal, the head of Houston Community College’s truck driving school.

O’Neal’s program is one of the largest in the country and requires 50 percent of students and faculty to undergo random drug tests. He says that’s why Congress has to tighten the regulations.

“Those policies must be followed, not need to be followed, but I believe must be followed to ensure that our roadways are safe,” O’Neal said.

Congress is promising to come up with tougher regulations because what Local 2 did was not an isolated case. A report from the Government Accountability Office shows federal investigators also circumvented drug testing laws at several facilities. The report even warns Congress it impossible to determine how many drivers have been able to beat the federally required drug test.

Federal law also requires trucking companies to randomly test employees to hopefully catch those who may have beat the test the first time. But after Local 2 Investigates combed through tens of thousands of federal violations, we found not everyone is following the law. Our investigation continues this Sunday at 10 p.m.
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Marian Catholic parents react to drug testing

12.22.07

This parent was for it, this parent was against it, and this parent was undecided. Most parents just stayed home.

Only about 10 Marian Catholic High School parents showed up Wednesday night for the first of two informational sessions on mandatory drug testing for all students at the private school in Chicago Heights. The school likely will begin administering the tests next year.

The large, cafeteria-like Leadership Center, where the event was held, was filled with empty tables and chairs.

A representative from the company that will run the testing, Psychemedics Corp., clarified some of the science behind hair-follicle drug testing for the small crowd.

As he spoke, a dozen flat screen televisions on the walls flashed pictures of hair follicles and test tubes and statistics.

The parents in attendance watched and listened intently. Some, like Alan Dean, were vocal in their opinions.

“It feels like an intrusion on the family,” said Dean, a Tinley Park resident and parent of a Marian junior. “It doesn’t feel right to me.”

Kathleen Wilk, an Olympia Fields resident with one child at Marian and one who will begin there next year, agreed.

“Is there any statistical evidence (that hair testing brings down drug use in schools)?” she asked. “Is it worth the cost?”

The program would cost $50 per student per year. Each student would be tested once at the beginning of the year, and then random tests would be given to some students later in the year.

Students who fail a first test will be required to take a second test at their own expense. Those failing two consecutive tests would be asked to withdraw from the school.

Bill Dausey, vice president at Psychemedics, said anecdotal evidence has proved to him that the testing is accurate and has worked to bring down drug use in the 350 schools nationwide that use the company’s services.

Matt Vanover, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education, said there is no state law requiring high school drug testing, and he is unaware of any private high school mandating it.

“Personally, I’m for it,” said Dan Genisio, of Glenwood, who has one child at the school. “It is a bit of an intrusion to me – but there’s a lot of stuff out there,” he said, referring to drugs.

Sister Kathleen Tait, school principal, assured attendees that test results never would leave the school on transcripts or other records, and the results would be viewed only by a student’s parents, an administrator and health professionals.

“I’m all for anything that will help support my child making strong choices,” said Rachel Evans, parent of a Marian student from Richton Park, speaking after the meeting.

Others were less convinced.

“I don’t think that it’s necessary, when we look at the cost,” said one man, who left during the meeting. “Should we be doing this to everyone in the school when we’ve said that (drug use is) not a major problem?”

Tait said drug use at Marian was significantly lower than national averages.

But both she and Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, school president, argue the testing is worth it to help the students at Marian who do use drugs.

“I don’t think you can put a price on a kid’s life,” McCaughey said. “If we make this investment,” which she admitted was a big one, “then we’ve said ‘we’re drug free.’ ”

“The unrequested support is what I don’t like,” Dean said. “Personal responsibility is what I teach my daughter.”

Toward the end of the meeting, one parent asked Tait whether the testing was a done deal.

Tait said that barring any huge public outcry or other unforeseen circumstances, the school was poised to go forward.

A second informational meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30 at the school.
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