If you are applying for a job in the Gulfport or Harrison County School District, you must undergo a drug screening. The mandatory drug testing policies only affect new employees, including teachers, administrators, custodians, food service and maintenance workers.
Current employees are not subject to the mandatory drug tests. However, if an employee is suspected of using drugs, they could be required to take a drug test. Those who test positive could get a warning, be suspended or lose their jobs.
"It's just reassuring to know that your employees are not dealing with drugs either, however you might say it, recreational or have a problem with that. It's better for the community, because we should be a role model for the communities," Harrison County Superintendent Henry Arledge said.
Gulfport School Superintendent Carlos Hicks agreed.
"I'm not sure that anything that we do is going to have a serious impact on the drug problem until the significant number of adults decide they're not going to misuse drugs anymore. There are ways to hide from a drug test. There are still employers that don't do pre-employment drug testing. We just didn't want to be one of those anymore".
"I think it'll help our employees, their safety, injuries, things of this nature. It should help to reduce our insurance rates," Arledge added.
The drug testing program isn't cheap, though. Each test costs between $35.00 - $50.00. Each school district hires about 250 new employees every year. That means the drug testing could cost each school district as much as $10,000 a year.
The policies go into effect in about a month. Several other school districts are also looking at the possibility of adopting a drug testing policy for their employees.