Starting next semester, all Lawrence high school students will be tested for alcohol before being admitted to school-sponsored dances.
School board members adopted the policy Monday.
The vote was not unanimous. Board member Craig Grant voted against the policy, arguing that not all students should be tested unless all students were suspected of drinking.
"To subject all students to the invasion of their privacy in this way is something I can not vote for when there is another method - that of requiring those students who exhibit signs of breaking the policy to take a Breathalyzer test," Grant said, reading from a written statement later filed with the board secretary.
Other board members recognized Grant's concerns but said they were outweighed by the need to ensure a safe environment at the dances.
Grant insisted he in no way was condoning underage drinking.
School officials began drafting the policy after fielding reports of some students appearing intoxicated during the Free State High School Firestarter Dance in late August.
Board members Monday circulated an e-mail from Lawrence High School Principal Steve Nilhas, who noted that more than 500 students - a record number - had attended the school's winter formal on Saturday.
- 6News video: More than $1 million slashed from school budget (12-12-05)
- Proposed Breath Alcohol Testing policy (.pdf)
- Budget reallocation summary (.pdf)
- Board member Craig Grant's statement against alcohol policy
- School dance alcohol policy under review (12-09-05)
- School board delays alcohol policy (11-29-05)
"I saw students at this dance who had not attended previous dances this year," Nilhas wrote, "and these students indicated to me (that) one reason they attended was because they would not have to put up with students who had been drinking before the dance."
Under the new policy:
¢ Students who test positive - they do not have to be intoxicated - will be banned from school dances for a calendar year. Those who test positive a second time will be banned for the remainder of their high school years.
¢ The test-all policy will not be applied to other school-sponsored events such as football or basketball games. Still, school officials have the authority to test students they believe have been drinking at these events.
¢ Parents of students who've been drinking will be called and asked to come get their child. If a parent cannot be reached or cannot leave work, the school's administrator will assume responsibility for ensuring the student returns home. Other adult relatives may be called.
¢ Students who test positive will not be suspended or expelled.
¢ Students suspected of drinking after they've been admitted to the dance will be subject to the same penalties as those who test positive at the door.
¢ Seniors who test positive at the prom will not be allowed to take part in commencement.
Though concerns over the possibility of seniors not be able to take part in graduation ceremonies were raised at the board's Nov. 28 meeting, they were not mentioned during Monday's session.