Criminal Treatment 

May 03, 2017

To the Editor:

On Sept. 1, 2017, with the grace of God, I will be proud to say I have been a dedicated bus driver for 50 years, something no one else around here has ever accomplished.

It is only with the support of my family, friends and co-workers I will have been able to accomplish this. I have driven my own children, my grandchildren and many important community members to and from school every day. I have been through many storms, hurricanes, evacuations and even a fire in the middle school, all with enough drama to write a book. I have loved every moment of it and dread the day I will have to say goodbye forever.

Since starting with the district I have passed every yearly physical for my CDL license with flying colors, have never gotten violation tickets and have never had an accident or any reason to disgrace my name or the name of the school.

On Feb. 15, I was one of 10 drivers selected to take the state-mandated random urine test for drugs and alcohol. Not having any water to drink since dinner the previous night, I was unable to provide the inspector with enough urine to complete the test. After three hours of drinking six glasses of water, a cup of hot chocolate and an iced tea, my nerves took over and I still could not satisfy the test. Paperwork started and I was classified with having a “shy bladder” and caught up in the state system with pages of instruction of what I had to do next because I was not allowed to drive the bus. Immediately my CDL license was suspended.

I was sent home with further instructions and the process began. I had to have complete blood work tests, visit a urologist for an ultrasound of my bladder and kidneys to be sure they functioned properly, a urine test again for protein, all of which were my costs because the doctor was not a participating physician in my insurance program. Another physical was done and every report came back negative.

I was sent back to work with a note saying I had no medical or physical problems at all and that I was probably just dehydrated at the time of the original test. This is where this incident should have been over. Instead, the state medical examiner replied that if there was no medical or physical reason found, I was labeled as someone who “refused” to produce urine and now was a suspect for drug or alcohol abuse. I was told I must see a substance abuse professional.

On March 23, I was interrogated by the professional for drugs and alcohol at a behavior clinic. It was so humiliating and degrading, but it was part of the process I had to endure if I wanted to get my license back. Next came seven pages of paperwork including permission to take a HIV test, a STD test and a tetanus test – all of which I refused to sign because I felt this was admitting to drug and alcohol abuse – and then another urine test.

On March 29, I received a call from the clinic specialist. She said my urine test was negative, but I was required to go to three more sessions for three weeks, taking urine specimens, so they could show the state Department of Transportation I am persistently clean of any drugs or alcohol. I must pass these procedures and tests before the state will reinstate my CDL license.

I am doing everything I am instructed to do because I want and need my job.

This is an overwhelming embarrassment to me both physically and mentally. I feel like a criminal and it is not over yet, but I cannot give up. When I finally retire I will do it with pride and dignity, not with this shadow over my head.

I would like to sue the DOT for harassment, age discrimination, bullying and violating my personal privacy and classifying me as a drug suspect when I did not refuse to give them a urine specimen.

There is certainly something wrong with this system.

Doris “Mrs. P” Peraria


Comments (1)
Posted by: Jean D Ragone | May 04, 2017 08:29

On one hand I applaud the DOT for their diligence in safeguarding our students. However; on the other hand this seems to go way beyond the acceptable. If you belong to a union, I woukd ask for their legal advice. If you are employed by a transportation service or the school district, you need to request to see what is now in your personnel file. If this experience added to your file, I would definitely want to add my own rebuttal statement and my own  doctor's report.

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