have occurred at dances. In the 2010-2011 school year, students lost 93 days of school related to alcohol use alone; in 2011-2012 that number increased to 127. This does not include students who lost athletic privileges due to alcohol involvement outside of school. Due to our growing concerns with student safety at dances and other school events, including prom and graduation, the high school proposes the implementation of a mandatory breathalyzer policy at these events in order to deter alcohol consumption and prevent undetected drinking from resulting in serious harm to our students. We are requesting permission from the Superintendent and School Committee to pilot this policy at the first dance and/or school event in 2013. Our School Resource Officer, Jason Dowd, will provide us with breathalyzers that can be used for this pilot.
Based on the experience of other North Shore communities that have implemented mandatory breathalyzer policies at dances, breathalyzers are an effective deterrent to student alcohol use prior to the event. Ipswich, Danvers, Hamilton-Wenham, Belmont, are among some the of communities with longstanding mandatory breathalyzer policies for school dances that report a 100% reduction in student alcohol infractions since policy implementation.
The following strategies are recommended in piloting a high school breathalyzer program:
• In addition to the discussions and announcements about this subject through class meetings and staff meetings, a flyer through Alert Now will be distributed annually to heighten student and parent awareness of safety issues relating to drug and alcohol use. This flyer will include a message to parents and students highlighting the support programs at AHS. An article about breathalyzers will posted yearly in the school’s newspaper.
• Each student has already been notified and must have signed an agreement confirming that he/she has been made aware of the consequences for substance abuse already in the Student Handbook. No student will be allowed to purchase a ticket for a dance unless that person has signed and handed in the Student Handbook agreement as well.
The pilot program will be implemented as follows:
Proposed Timeline for Pilot
All students attending the dance/school event will be given a breathalyzer test which requires the student to lightly blow in the direction of the device from a distance of 4-6 inches. If the student receives a positive reading, a second test will be administered. The second test with a different breathalyzer will eliminate any possibility of a false positive.
1. If a student tested positive on the second reading, his/her parents will be contacted and he/she will be released directly to his parents. Disciplinary consequences will be assigned per the Student Handbook. Attendance at school dances will be prohibited for one calendar year. Any senior who tests positive on the active reading or brings drugs or alcohol to a dance will not be permitted to attend senior week events.
2. If a student, after signing the agreement, refuses the breathalyzer test, his/her parents will be notified and asked to transport the student from the dance/event. If evidence suggests that the student is under the influence of alcohol, the student will be interviewed by school administrators and, if it is determined that he/she has consumed alcohol, disciplinary procedures will be followed.
This is a pilot for school dances/school event and after it has been completed the School Council will decide whether to make a recommendation to the School Committee supporting and formalizing the breathalyzer policy going forward. Below is a sample of what the faculty will be required to read during their Block One classes to inform students of the breathalyzer pilot and the AHS dance protocol.
FACULTY: Please read the following dance protocol and accompanying student code of conduct on back during Block 1 the Wednesday, prior to the dance and post in your classrooms. Thanks!
To: AHS Faculty, Students, Staff and Parents
From: Marilyn Jordan, Luz Valverde, Mark Seide and Chris Lord
Re: AHS Dance
AHS DANCE PROTOCOLS
1) We are piloting the AHS Breathalyzer Policy.
2) Only those students who were present in school that day with no disciplinary infractions may attend a dance.
3) Doors open at 7:00. All students need to be in the dance by 8:00 in order to be admitted. All students will stay at the dance until 10:30 unless a parent picks them up earlier.
4) Please do not bring valuables to the dance. All backpacks, purses, and coats cannot go into the dance with you. The school is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
5) We will have adequate chaperones committed to the entire evening prior to the dance manning the back doors, front doors and entrance to the dance.
6) AHS Students only.
7) Proper attire for a semi-formal required at discretion of the administration.
8) Students under the influence of controlled substances will be released to their parents and face disciplinary action.
9) Police will be present.
10) Students found to be dancing inappropriately may be asked to desist or leave at the discretion of the chaperones.
Email Paula Colby Clements at her email address for any comments