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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Friday, March 4, 2005

Breathalyzers Becoming Part of the School Day

Just a few years ago, using breathalyzers at extracurricular activities like proms, pep rallies, and sporting events was hotly debated and resisted as an invasion of students' privacy.  Eventually, these sobriety tests were accepted as necessary to ensure that students weren't smuggling drugs and alcohol into school-sponsored events or attending these events while intoxicated.  Now, some school districts, ranging from Indiana to Connecticut and New York, are beginning to employ breathalyzers as part of the ordinary school day.  School officials say that they have a duty to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and to ensure that students aren't showing up to class intoxicated.  The New York Times reports that manufacturers of breathalyzers have sold thousands of devices to schools, so it's impossible to calculate how many school districts are beginning to use breathalyzers as a typical school practice, but the East Hampton School District on the East End of Long Island is one of these districts.  "Any student suspected of being drunk in class would be tested by a trained staff member, and not a police officer," board officials said. Results showing alcohol consumption would mean suspension. Refusing to take a test would be seen as an admission of guilt."  Civil rights lawyers are concerned that the tests will unfairly stigmatize students who just act goofy or don't abide by the norms.  Following the same tune, East Hampton citizens have overflowed the local newspapers with op-eds calling the policy "heavy-handed." More from the New York Times... [Mark Godsey]

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When we can say that every school that will get an expensive breathalyzer has the books it needs first, then we can consider methods of dealing with periphery problems such as proving a student is drunk so they can be suspended. But that concern asid... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 4, 2005 7:17:05 AM