Smithtown Schools Enact Breathalyzer Policy

The Board of Education votes to put policy in place Tuesday night, giving educators the power to give students the alcohol tests.

's Board of Education on Tuesday voted to enact an that gives educators the power to give Breathalyzer tests to students they suspect of drinking at school-run extracurricular events.

The vote was passed with five members in favor of the policy and one Joseph Saggese, against. Board member Louis Liguori was absent from the meeting.

Saggese said he chose to vote no because he was not convinced how effective the policy would be

"There was no plan, it's not well thought out, no information was given to the board," he said.

While in 1998, the Sayville School District became the first district on Long Island to administer Breathalyzer tests, these days policies can be found across the country, .

Superintendent Edward Ehmann said the tests eliminate subjectivity from accusations, much like police radar guns do. Ehmann said that drivers whose speeding is logged by a radar gun know exactly why the police are pulling them over.

Saggese said the school should not be the police; instead they should remain as educators.

"I'm just concerned that we're treating the students as if we're police and this is a police state and I don't see it that way, I see it as we're educators. Policeman are trained, they live the job every day, they have experience," he said.

The new policy states that "any student for whom there is a reasonable suspicion of the use of alcohol before or during the school day, prior to or during an extra-curricular, interscholastic, or other school-related function, whether conducted on or away from school property, may be required to submit to a breathalyzer test."

The district said certain signs would prompt them to gvie students the test, including flushed face, the odor of alcohol on breath, slurred speech, failure to comprehend questions, vomiting and being found in possession of alcohol. Once a school official has determined that one or more of these factors is present the official may ask the student to be subjected to a test by a trained school official with a witness.

If the tests come back positive, or the student or guest admits to using alcohol, the parent or guardian could be notified to have them returned home under parental supervision and emergency help could be contacted if the student or guest is at risk of alcohol poisoning. If the test is negative the student or guest could be allowed to return to their activities.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Administration Maria Rianna said several employees of the district will take training held by Suffolk County Police to teach educators and administrators on what to look for with students suspected to be under the influence of alcohol, as well as how to assess students before using the alcohol testing device.

Rianna also said any student testing positive for alcohol would be subject to disciplinary actions.

new guy May 24, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Sounds good.
A Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I have a BIG problem with the following taken directly from the article. "The district said certain signs would promt them to gie students the test, including flushed face, the odor of alcohol on breath, slurred speech, failure to comprehend questions, vomiting and being found in possession of alcohol. Once a school official has determined that one or more of these factors is present the official may ask the student to be subjected to a test by a trained school official with a witness." My child is Autistic and does not always understand what is being asked of him. If a student is found to have a negative test result, will there be an apology to that student since they will be humiliated in front of their peers?
George May 24, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Oh please, it's not all about you! Grow up! If the test is negative the student can simply walk away proud with his head held high.
scsddad May 24, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I agree if you are not drinking you have nothing to worry about. So why don't the teachers want to be tested. How many times can a student be tested in one day. If they are tested more than once in a day and test negative each time is that harassment
scsddad May 24, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Why isn't there anything on the district website explaining the policy
A Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 03:37 AM
George is obviously someone who is not aware that there are children with disabilities in the District. No George, it is NOT about me, it is about those who may not fully comprehend what is being asked of them and why. Maybe YOU should grow up George and start volunteering in the schools so you can have a better understanding of all students. When was the last time you attended a PTSA meeting, or an IEP meeting as a Parent Member, probably never!
Monkeyspaw May 24, 2012 at 04:05 AM
bruised ego's is trumped by saved lives.
interested May 24, 2012 at 04:13 AM
The policy specifically excludes use of the detection device during the school day. The regulation (administrative procedures which are associated with this policy) was reviewed as well, and indicates that during extra-curricula activities and school sponsored events the device would be used privately only after other indication had been observed to indicate inebriation. There would be no humiliation in front of their peers.
A Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Is that supposed to be witty Monkeyspaw?!?
A Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Interested, I am very happy to hear that it is to be used only during extra-curricula activities and school sponsored events. By chance, did you happen to vote on this or abstain? I agree with your views from the start of this. Thank you.
We Heart Long Island May 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Where does it say the the teachers don't want to be tested? At the board meeting discussions and in these articles I never saw a request of the teachers so how could they refuse?
LIProfessor May 24, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I think that this is an excellent move by the Board. It could save some lives.
Sticks60 May 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I was thinking about this issue and from the principals point of view. It is there the idea came from. If a child gets hurt during a school event and it was due to an alcohol issue the district is in big trouble. If an administrator calls out a student because they think there is an alcohol issue the administrator then is open to the parents defending their child. Now with the use of a testing tool the issue of the use of alcohol by a student is no longer an issue that a parent can argue over when notified.
interested May 24, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Yes, I did vote for the policy, as amended. I found the discussion on this forum useful in my deliberation and is why I suggested that the administrative process associated with the policy be presented at the meeting prior to the vote.
A Concerned Resident May 24, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Interested, Thank you for listening and being so diligent in relaying the wants of the community (the safety of our children) while maintaing the students' dignity by doing this procedure in private and only at school sponsered events. Job well done. If it isn't already, perhaps the District's website should be updated with the entire wording of this new policy.
scsddad May 26, 2012 at 08:43 PM
interested Can you answer a couple of questions 1. Can you get a false positive from this test? 2. If you can what would be the districts liability? 3. Who many times in a day or event can a student be tested? 4. If it is more than once and the student passes all the test would that be considered harassment? I would understand if you don't have all the answers it wouldn't be the first time the board voted on something without all the answers
james brandenstein May 28, 2012 at 04:02 PM
George sounds like an idiot .
james brandenstein May 28, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Its possible that a Diabetic would cause a False Positve Result . The Districts may be liable unless they get a signed consent form . What if the Breathalyzer Test is performed against the subject's objections , but the consent form is not signed ?
scsddad May 29, 2012 at 09:49 PM
interested Can you or any other board member answer the questions I asked under this topic. Also why isn't this new policy on the district website a week after the vote. If you don't know the answers just say so. With no board member answering these questions I guess you don't have the answers
We Heart Long Island May 30, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Here's your answers. 1. Who cares. 2. No. 3. As many as necessary. 4. No.
interested May 30, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Dad- I was out of town and not following the Patch. Please read revised article reflecting revised policy. This device is NOT for the school day. It is for school sponsored events (Homecoming, prom) and designed to eliminate the subjectivity during a phone with a parent, not for legal action. Administration has been trained on how to use these apparatus effectively. If a student is displaying behavior that mimics intoxication AND has a false positive, I would think a parent would want to know, no? They might be aware of a medical condition and alert adults in charge of the need for medical help. District's liability in trying to prevent underage intoxication at a school sponsored event? In the interest of full information, I do believe the contract signed by student AND parent to purchase tickets to the prom include acknowledgment of this policy. As to the website update, I imagine in the interest of efficiency, the district will update with the updated Code of Conduct which includes the Dignity for All Students policies which are effective 7/1/12. I hope this answers your questions. I am not, however, on call 24/7.
A Concerned Resident May 30, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Interested, The only change I would have made to your above response is I would have put an exclamation point after the last sentence. Thank you for all you have done!
interested May 30, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Concerned - you've been very gracious and kind. I think a forum like this can provide ideas and thoughts that might not have occurred in deliberations; that's why I read it. I don't need to agree, nor do folks need to agree with any position I ultimately take. I can assure the public that decisions are made thoughtfully (by all, not just me.) It is an imperfect world, and honorable people can honestly disagree after weighing the facts and the potential fallout. Sadly, snarkiness has become a part of public discourse, not just locally, but widely. I thought most of the commentary here was genuine and concerned and that was nice to see.
scsddad May 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
interested Thank You for response, it's not that i'm against the policy I just worry it want be done right and everything wasn't looked into enough. It's been a history of the administration and board to try to do things without enough information in the past. For example the buses this year and the first time they wanted to close a school last year if you remember at West Mr Ehmann did a power point and it seemed he didn't have a clue and then he decided he needed more information. So I hope you understand my concerns. I
scsddad May 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM
We Heart Long Island I think alot of people would care if there kid got pulled out of the prom because of a false positive. What do you mean by as many times as it takes you think it is alright to test the same student as many times as they want and the student passes all the test. To me that would sound like they have it in for that person
We Heart Long Island May 30, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I think most people do not worry about such things or come up with all these scenarios you have. Responsible adults are running the schools and events. It's been working out so far.
scsddad May 30, 2012 at 06:02 PM
interested Are the parents going to be notified that they were tested even if they pass the breathalyzer. I know the parents are signing a form saying they can be tested but the parent should be notified if they are being tested
interested May 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM
The regulations and procedures developed to implement this policy only call for the use of the device if the student (or guest) appears to personnel trained in DITEP program by SCPD. The use of the device is documented, along with the cause for its use. It calls for the test to be administered twice, 15 minutes apart. Although a negative results MAY provide the student/guest with permission to return to the activity, the behavior alone could be basis for the parent being notified (slurred speech, impaired motor skills, etc.) The difference is the phone call will have an additional non-subjective basis. By the way, the policy (5290) is on the website, under Board of Education, Policy Manual.
Anonymous Person May 30, 2012 at 11:50 PM
They wouldn't be humiliated in front of their peers because this would be done privately.
Anonymous Person May 30, 2012 at 11:55 PM
The stupidity of these so-called "adults" in this comment section amuses me.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »