The teachers at Benjamin Coser elementary

Fallsburg, New York is about 90 miles North of Manhattan. It’s a small town in the Hudson Valley with a population or 12,000, more or less. At the local elementary school, Benjamin Coser Elementary, heroin and drug paraphernalia were discovered in the faculty rest room this past Monday. Video cameras have identified 8 teachers who used the rest room on Monday. Naturally, the cops would like them all to submit to a urine test to see which one(s) is(are) the junkie(s). Initially they all agreed to do that. Then the teachers’ union representative advised them all not to consent and to get a lawyer. Now they have all lawyered up and refused to give a urine sample for testing. Well, one of them who is a staff person and not a teacher, so not a member of the teachers’ union, has voluntarily submitted to testing.

Stories from the Fallsburg Record are here and here.

I have two thoughts about this. First, if I were one of the teachers and were innocent of shooting heroin at my elementary school, I could not wait to give a urine sample for testing to clear my name from suspicion. I’m a lawyer accustomed to advising people why they should not talk to the police. If you’re guilty and if you’re my client I don’t want you to talk to the police. If you’re not my client then I do want you to talk to the police because you’re just another criminal and I hope you go to prison. Talking to the police will pretty well guarantee that.

If you’re innocent there is sometimes good reason to talk to the police, but only with your lawyer present. However, a urine test is not talking. A urine test will either implicate those teachers who brought heroin into their school, or it will clear them.  Of course, a urine test might also implicate a teacher who used heroin outside of the school and was not involved with the heroin found in the faculty restroom.  I address that below.

Second, I don’t think public school teachers should have a choice in this. I think they should sign a waiver as a condition of being hired. I think they should be required to submit to drug testing anytime without notice. Cops live under those rules. In many police departments, such as New York City, when a cop receives a special message on his radio or cell phone he must immediately report to a designated clinic for a drug test. Even detectives working undercover have to comply. Not showing up for the test, and immediately with all haste, is a serious matter that will affect one’s career, and may even end it.

I believe the reasons for making cops subject to drug testing without notice apply just as well to teachers in elementary schools.  When I was in elementary school, sometime back in the 19th century, drugs in school be anyone was unthinkable.  Drugs anywhere were unthinkable. Only Jazz musicians were smoking marijuana and heroin addiction was restricted to certain neighborhoods of New York and Los Angeles.  Now it’s everywhere, even in the pastoral landscapes of Fallsburg, New York.

This episode should prevent anyone from claiming with a straight face that teachers or their union place the interests of the children first.

I say enough with coddling illegal drug users. Nail ‘em.  That’s what used to be done and it worked.

  • Shmuel Engelsohn

    I started teaching at Tilden HS in Brooklyn NY in 1960. There were about 5400 students in three sessions. The only “drug” in use was insulin.

    • TeeJaw

      In those days people took drugs to improve their well being, not to destroy it.