Halliburton said she contacted Adams for drug testing reports after Jonesborough police arrested and charged a county bus driver, Jackie Adams, no relation to Randy Adams, with driving under the influence after someone reported her driving erratically on her Wednesday-morning route. When Halliburton approached Randy Adams with inquiries about the random drug testing policies for bus drivers, she said Adams told her that he randomly tested twice a year, once in the fall and once in January.
When Halliburton asked to see records from January of this year, she said Adams told her that the last drug test was from January 2017. When she asked for those records, Halliburton said he told her that he could only find records from the fall of 2014.
Halliburton said she checked accounts payable to see the last time the department paid the vendor for drug testing, and that the last record of a payment to that vendor was in January 2015 for a random drug test that happened in the fall of 2014.
When Halliburton asked Adams why there hadn’t been any drug tests for bus drivers in more than three years, she said he was unable to give her a satisfactory answer. Because Adams had a duty to administer these tests regularly, she said, he was was terminated for providing her with misinformation and for “failure to follow board policy.”
“This is not a pleasant situation, but we must hold our employees accountable for actions or inactions which place our students’ safety at risk,” she said to the Press Friday.
Moving forward, she said, the board will be drug testing all county bus drivers in the next two weeks and working with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Washington County Sheriff’s Office to review and update current training policy for bus drivers.
Additionally, she said the duties for randomly testing drivers will fall to special projects manager Jarrod Adams, no relation to Jackie or Randy Adams, and that records of random drug tests will now be kept at central office; they were kept at the bus garage previously.
The board policy currently mirrors the U.S. Department of Transportation’s expectations of testing 50 percent of bus drivers randomly each school year, and Halliburton said the board is looking to increase both the frequency that drivers are tested and increasing the percentage of drivers who are tested each year.
“I do believe that drug testing can compel someone who might be using drugs to avoid that if they want to keep their job, it can be a deterrent,” Halliburton said. “If it’s not a deterrent, either way it keeps our boys and girls safe from the likelihood of having an impaired driver behind the wheel. That’s the most critical piece here is keeping these students safe.”
Jarrod Adams said the tests will scan for alcohol and illegal drugs in addition to prescription drugs. In the event prescription drugs show up in the screening, he said drivers will have an opportunity to provide the department with a prescription, and from there the department will test if the levels are adequate amounts.
Jackie Adams was arraigned on DUI and reckless endangerment charges Friday in Washington County Sessions Court. Her arrest came a day after another county driver crashed his school bus into a tree on Cherokee Mountain Road, injuring himself and four students. Lanty Ross Lindley told the law enforcement he had fallen asleep at the wheel. Both drivers were suspended without pay.
Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.