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Will Dracut Schools Start To Test Students For Alcohol Use?

Jan 24, 2018 02:26AM ● By Bill Gilman

Dracut School Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone.

Dracut Public School students take math tests, science tests and even MCAS tests. But if the School Committee approves a recommendation by Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone, students will soon be subject to breath alcohol tests.
At Monday's committee meeting, Stone recommended a new policy to help combat alcohol use by teens. Under the terms of the proposed policy, school officials could administer a breath test on a student if administrators has a reasonable suspicion that the student is under the influence of alcohol.
Stone stressed that the device that would be used for the breath test is not the Breathalyzer used by police to test suspected drunk drivers. Rather, he said, the device would merely give a positive or negative result for the presence of alcohol on the student's breath.
Stone told the committee he hopes the policy would serve as a deterrent to students using alcohol at school or prior to arriving at school. He recommended the district purchase four testing devices at a cost of $700 each.
Under the proposed policy, school department officials would also be able to test students randomly at school district events such as athletic contests, school dances etc.
According to an article published in the Lowell Sun, the parents or guardians of a student testing positive would be notified and asked to come to the school and take the student home. However, that student also has the right to a second and third test, to be taken at least two minutes apart.
According to the Sun article, committee member Sabrina Heisey voiced concerns about a provision in the proposed policy that would treat a student who refuses to be tested, "as comparable to being under the influence."
Heisey is concerned that provision could violate the rights of the student and make a presumption of guilt without evidence.
The proposed policy will be brought up for a second reading and an approval vote at the next committee meeting.

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