Soon, Bethlehem Area School District teens may have to randomly submit to a breath-alcohol test before entering school dances.Freedom High School students arrive to their 2016 prom at DeSales University. Student's at the 2017 prom may be subject to random testing to see if they've been drinking. (Lehighvalleylive.com file photo)
The school board is weighing a policy that would allow district officials to select students to test to see if they drank any alcohol before a school dance.
A final vote is scheduled for the regular board meeting Feb. 27.
"They key for suspicion-less (testing) is that it is truly random for everybody," Superintendent Joseph Roy explained.
Under the policy, ahead of a dance school district officials would randomly pull numbers to identify the students that would be tested at the door.
Officials could draw a number to decide that every 10 students would be tested or select a slew of numbers that would correspond to tickets sold ahead of the dance, officials said during a Monday night school board meeting.
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At the door of the dance, officials would have a list of the selected numbers. So, when a student arrived with a ticket with a number on the list, they would be pulled out of line and taken to a private area where a trained district employee would administer a breathalyzer.
Roy explained the machine is different than the type police use. It does not determine a blood-alcohol content, just the presence of alcohol from a student speaking in front of the machine, Roy said.
Director of Student Services and Minority Affairs Vivian Robledo-Shorey said it is definitely meant to be a deterrent.
"Yes, so they don't even think about drinking," she said.
If the ticket is held by a non-district student, they too would have to submit to the test.
After implementing a similar testing policy at the high school where he was principal, Roy said all students knew they could be tested when they came to a dance.
"We had a substantial decrease in issues when we had this in place," the superintendent said.
The principals of Freedom and Liberty high schools expressed their support for the policy at a board committee meeting last month.
Roy said Monday night they want a policy in place so they can do random testing for this year's prom.
If a student is found to be drinking, their parents will be contacted and police could get involved as well, officials said.
The district still is able to test any student that shows up to a school event and appears to be intoxicated, Roy said.
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