DOE teacher refused to take drug test - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE teacher refused to take drug test

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - A Department of Education teacher lost her appeal with the Civil Service Commission on Tuesday night.  Shelia Tyquiengco was fighting a 30-day suspension she received back in March for insubordination after refusing to take a drug test.  And the agency had reason to believe that Tyquiengco was using illicit drugs.  

Back in March an investigation was conducted into the 7th grade Astumbo Middle School teacher. It was alleged that Tyquiengco not only used illicit drugs, but offered crystal methamphetamine to two students on more than one occasions. School administrators had reported that Tyquiengco had failed to report on 29 separate occasions between January and March and often appeared to be lacking sleep. A student also reported that she had witnessed Tyquiengco using the drug Ice.

According to the final notice of adverse action, the investigation and supporting documents provided the department enough probable cause to have her take a drug test. But DOE contends Tyquiengco refused to submit to the test and also refused to sign the notice informing her to take the drug test. She tried to explain herself before commissioners on Tuesday night, saying she never refused.

"I said, 'I don't want to sign nothing I'm not sure I have any understanding of'," she explained.

Tyquiengco told commissioners she wanted to take the test the next day but claims she wasn't allowed because she refused to sign the notice.  Her decision resulted in the department finding her insubordinate as she had violated DOE's drug-free work place policies and procedures. A 30-day suspension without pay followed as well as a directive to enroll in a rehabilitation, counseling and treatment program. 

Instead, the teacher appealed her case to the CSC. Chairman Luis Baza said, "If you believe in your heart that you're not using drugs, you should have done the test." And commissioner Lou Hongyee added, "You should have just gone ahead and done and then voice your concern about the comments that were made, because when you refuse a drug test, there are procedures."

DOE drug program specialist Margaret Cruz said, "All we needed to do was drug test just to alleviate the allegation. What we were trying to do was get her to take the drug test, if it comes out clear then there's no discipline."

DOE employee management relations officer Robert Koss reminded commissioners that Tyquiengco was simply charged with insubordination - something that was never disputed by the employee. "Why would an employee that had nothing to hide, jeopardize her job and her career, which she spent many years, tens of thousands of dollars preparing for. Why would she risk it all if she had nothing to hide?' said Koss.

And for commissioner John Smith, the evidence DOE collected was too overwhelming. "For me, when I look through the absenteeism and particularly the January through March period in 2011, there's almost 30 days in a row where she was missing from work. When you put that together with the comments by the students and everything else, it leads me to that management did have probably cause to ask her to take a drug test," he stated.

Such was an opinion that was affirmed by each of the commissioners, who unanimously voted in favor of DOE. KUAM News has confirmed that Tyquiengco's adverse action, 30-day suspension without pay, was taken over the summer and the teacher is already back in the classroom still teaching at Astumbo Middle School.

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