Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

January 17, 2013

Breathalyzer pilot put into effect

60 percent of students oppose alcohol breath test

(Continued)

The School Committee website put the full policy online for a month and directed feedback to it to School Committee Chairwoman Paula Colby-Clements. She didn’t receive a single message, however.

“The lack of comment via email to the School Committee means that people are probably supportive of the policy,” she said. “This particular type of policy is one that many communities have. It’s not like it’s new and novel, and maybe we’re a little bit behind the curve in not having it.”

Colby-Clements said she wasn’t surprised that the pilot doesn’t sit well with students, since they’re the ones getting their breath checked.

“Whenever you have policies, like one making you wear a seat belt, people get a little antsy when Big Brother is telling them what to do,” Colby-Clements said.

Knowing that three fifths of high school students were against the policy, Wivell said the school’s Student Government will take a detailed look at the policy and then take its own position.

That process launched the day after the School Committee’s executing vote, according to Lord.

“It’s a pilot for this first go-around. We’re going to make sure everyone knows how it works, make sure they’re comfortable with it,” he said. “We’re going to walk them through the protocols so they’re understood before the dance.”

HOW THE PLAN WORKS

All students attempting to enter the event will be given a breathalyzer test, where they will blow lightly in the direction of the device from 4 to 6 inches away.

If a student receives a positive reading from the test, a second test would be done to ensure the positive reading isn’t a false positive. If a student tests positive for both readings, his or her parents would be contacted to pick up the student from the event.

Other disciplinary consequences would be issued as outlined in the school’s student handbook. Those consequences include a three-day suspension and completion of two outside family-counseling sessions. Student athletes violating the school’s chemical health policy are also subject to rules established by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.

If a student refuses to test, the student’s parents also would be notified and asked to transport the student from the event.

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