Duneland board requires students to take alcohol breath test before prom
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org April 10, 2013 8:54PM
Updated: May 12, 2013 2:20PM
Chesterton High School students will have to submit to a Breathalyzer test before they can go to prom this year after the Duneland School Corp. board voted unanimously in favor of trying out the new policy.
Students will also have to take a breath test for alcohol before the senior banquet in May. After these two events, the school board will study how the testing went and then vote on whether to make it permanent.
Chesterton High School Principal Jim Goetz said at the school board meeting Wednesday night that the school’s resource officer will train all chaperones on how to use the testing machine. Students who test positive will be sent to a police officer at the dance who will run a second test.
Students who test positive the second time will be referred to police, and face suspension and cuts to their extracurricular activities, which is similar to the school’s current alcohol policy.
Goetz said the policy was needed after several students came drunk to the last school dance. The school’s Valentine Day dance was canceled because of it.
“We’re trying to give them one more reason to say no,” he told the school board.
He asked that the policy be restricted to just dances and that he does not intend to use it at other events, such as sports games.
Sophomore Lauren Lecey, a member of the high school’s newspaper, spoke in favor of the testing, saying that taking the test was not nearly as big a deal as a student getting hurt or dying because of drunken driving.
“No one is making these kids go to this dance,” she said.
However, several adults expressed concerns about targeting all students. William Barkow likened the policy to how just being a black person was enough probable cause for a police officer to pull someone over. He noted that the Indiana Prevention Resource Center does not promote random drug testing as effective; they instead suggest using positive reinforcement.
“Liberty once lost is hard to get back,” Barkow said.
Ralph Levi, a retired police officer, asked what the school would do if a student had a false positive, which can happen if the tubes aren’t properly cleared out, and with a student’s car and date if the student was arrested.
Board member Kristin Kroeger said the school needed to consider some of the issues Levi raised but that, as policy, she supported the program because the safety of the students is one of the board’s main priorities. Board member John Marshall said he saw the policy as similar to all plane travelers having to submit to a security inspection.
“They are out there to try and save lives,” Marshall said.
Goetz said the idea to check just students suspected of drinking was unrealistic because everyone is dancing and it’s too hard to keep track of all of them.
The board also voted 5-0 in favor of naming Chesterton High School Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck as principal of Bailly Elementary School.