Arizona school districts are considered political subdivisions of the state, and as such, are subjected to many state and federal laws required of public entities.  School districts (and charter schools if they provide transportation to students) are required to have drug and alcohol testing protocols for employees that provide student transportation on school buses to and from school.   For more information on the drug or alcohol testing of transportation employees, please see my colleague’s blog, School Bus Driver Tests for Drugs or Alcohol.

However, what about drug and or alcohol testing of school employees (Non-Transportation) and/or charter school employees; are those employees required to submit to drug and or alcohol testing when requested for reasonable cause shown by the school district/charter school or face disciplinary action if they refuse?   The answer is “Yes.”

Arizona State law requires employers to disseminate drug testing policies to their employees and such policies must include specific information, such as circumstances under which testing may be required and the consequences of a refusal to participate in the testing[1].  Additionally, school districts and/or charter schools may request that an employee submit to a drug/alcohol test any time they have a “reasonable suspicion that an employee may be affected by the use of drugs or alcohol and that the use may adversely affect the job performance or the work environment.”[2]

Under the State labor laws pertaining to the drug testing of employees, the definition of an “employer” includes, “. . . a political subdivision of the state . . .;” therefore, school districts are subject to the law, as well as applicable federal laws.[3]  Charter schools are also subject to the State laws because they are a “company. . . that has one or more full-time employees employed in the same business, or in or about the same establishment, under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written.”[4]

Employers may take adverse employment action against an employee based on his/her refusal to provide a drug testing sample or alcohol impairment sample.[5]  The adverse action can include any of the following: 1) Suspension of the employee with or without pay for a designated period of time; 2) Termination of employment; or 3) Other adverse employment action[6].  Furthermore, wilful or negligent misconduct connected with employment includes, but is not limited to, “the failure to pass, or the refusal to take a drug or alcohol impairment test administered by, or at the request of, the employer pursuant to title 23, chapter 2, article 14.”[7]

Thus, school districts and/or charter schools may lawfully discipline any employee, including termination of an employee, who refuses to submit to a drug or alcohol test at the request of the District.  Such refusal by the employee may also be considered wilful or negligent misconduct under Arizona State law.

[1] A.R.S. § 23-493.04(A).
[2] Id. at (B)(5).
[3] A.R.S. § 23-493(5).
[4] Id.
[5] A.R.S. § 23-493.05.
[6] Id.
[7] A.R.S. § 23-619.01(B)(3).


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Drug and or Alcohol Testing of School Employees (Non-Transportation),  or any other education law matters, please feel free to contact 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.