HOUSTON -- A 79-year-old school crossing guard was fired over a drug test, but not because he failed it, Local 2 reported Thursday. Francis Light refused to take it, violating Houston Independent School District policy.
Light has been a familiar face at Oak Forest Elementary School in northwest Houston for 16 years as the school's crossing guard. He was fired last month after refusing to take a random drug-alcohol test.
"It hit me the wrong way. I'm old, old-fashioned. School's about out, and here I am going on 80, why do they want to take drug test on me?" he told Local 2.
Light said his system is clean, and after so many loyal years on the job, he was insulted.
"I got to think as long as people know me, long as I've been doing this, then they want me to take a drug test kind of made me mad," he said.
An HISD spokesman said all employees are subject to random tests.
"We go the extra step of having them sign the form, acknowledging that they understand that," said Terry Abbott, an HISD spokesman.
Light signed the form, but did not read the fine print.
Some in the community are uniting with Light, saying he did more than just escort kids across the street. He was even nominated by some of the children in a contest for heroes.
"He's the only one with loving touch. He knows you by name," said Kenneth Bonte, a student.
Parents said they would miss Light's presence at the school intersection.
"It sounds like there was a misunderstanding. He should've been handled possibly more gently," said Vonda Bonte, a mother.
"He's as much a part of the school as teachers are," said Ann Zallar, a mother.
Light said he should have just submitted to the drug-alcohol test, but said there are no hard feelings. He said that he will be turning 80 years old soon and he was considering retiring anyway. Light just did not want it to end like this.
HISD considers all refusals to take the drug-alcohol test as a positive test.
It requires employees to submit to the tests immediately. The district has a policy to terminate all employees who refuse to take the test.