WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III said Thursday that local school boards should be free to institute drug-testing programs for probationary teachers who seek tenure.
"We in the Department of Justice view freedom from drugs as a valid condition of employment for schoolteachers," he said.
"Drug testing has been upheld when applied to transportation workers and others whose jobs have a direct effect on public safety," Meese said. "And it seems to me almost an insult to teachers to maintain that their jobs are any less important."
His made his remarks in a speech at the University of Mississippi. Copies of the speech were released in Washington.
Meese said that "schools must furnish students with multiple examples of individuals leading drug-free lives, and who are glad to be doing so."
'A Lot of Nerve'
The heads of the nation's two largest teachers' unions spoke strongly against Meese's remarks.
"The Reagan Administration has a hell of a lot of nerve resting on a role-model argument, given the Iran scandal and other goings on in the Administration," said Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers.