Reader Poll: Should Dracut Students Be Subject To Breath Testing For Alcohol?
Feb 06, 2018 03:18PM
● By Bill Gilman
A needed tool to help combat underage alcohol use and abuse or a school department overreach that violates student rights?
At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Dracut School Committee will consider a proposal by Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone that would allow school administrators to use a device to test the breath of students they believe may have consumed alcohol at school or a school or event or just before arriving.
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. School department officials would also be able to test students randomly at school district events such as athletic contests, school dances etc.
In a letter to parents and guardians, also published on the school department web site, Stone said the policy is intended to act as a deterrent and that it has been used successfully by neighboring school districts.
"For many years school districts in Massachusetts have been utilizing breath alcohol testing as a tool for doing that very thing. In fact, many of our neighboring districts have had breath alcohol testing in place for over a decade," wrote Stone. "The intent of adopting this process is passive deterrence. There is no intent to actively persecute students, but rather, to establish another process that will deter them from engaging in unsafe and unhealthy behaviors."
(Stone's complete letter, which includes an outline of the proposed policy, is attached to this article as a PDF file.)
In making his proposal to the school committee on Jan. 22, Stone stressed that parents would be notified prior to their child being tested.
The initial reception by members of the committee was lukewarm at best. While some members expressed support for the policy, members expressed concerns about the parental notification process and whether or not the testing would violate the civil rights of the students.
But we want to know what you think.
Take the poll below and tell us if you support the proposed alcohol testing policy in the Dracut Public Schools and feel free to leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this story.