Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Who Refused Drug Test Appeals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher Who Refused Drug Test Appeals

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- A former Chatham County Teacher of the Year fired for

refusing to take a random drug test has appealed the decision to

the state Board of Education.

Sherry Hearn, a 27-year veteran teacher, was fired in April

after law enforcement officers said they found a small amount of

marijuana in her car at Windsor Forest High School in Savannah.

The car was parked and unlocked on the campus.

An attorney for the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education

told a state hearing officer Tuesday that Hearn violated the law

by bringing marijuana onto school property, then went against

board policy by refusing the test.

"If this was a private employer, there would be no question about

this," said Lea Holliday, the Chatham County board's lawyer.

Hearn, a former history teacher, refused to take a school

system-ordered drug test, saying it would have violated her

constitutional rights.

Savannah-Chatham Superintendent Patrick Russo recommended she

be fired, for insubordination and violation of board policy and

procedure.

Hearn has been a vocal critic of random drug searches. On a

number of occasions, she has said the practice of locking down

schools and allowing drug dogs to sniff students' belongings and

cars was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment right

against unreasonable search and seizure.

At the hearing, Hearn's attorney, Alan Lowe, pointed out that

Hearn has not been charged with a crime. Hearn took a private

drug test a day after the search and the results showed no

illegal drugs in her system, her attorneys said in April.

Lowe told the hearing officer that the search was unreasonable

and unlawful and violated Chatham school board policy because

Hearn was not notified beforehand.

He also told the hearing officer Hearn shouldn't have been

forced to take a drug test. …

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