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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.

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.


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