Archive for Sunday, November 13, 2005

Alcohol policy nearly in place

November 13, 2005


By month's end, Lawrence school leaders expect to adopt policies for dealing with students who use alcohol before or during school-sponsored dances.

"It's pretty much a no-brainer," said Matt Brungardt, Lawrence High School assistant principal. "You're going to be tested, and if you've been drinking, you're going to get caught and there are going to be consequences."

Brungardt said that he doubted few - if any - students would want to risk getting caught.

"Let's put it this way, I don't see why they'd take the risk," he said. "And I don't think they will."

School officials began drafting the new policy after fielding reports of some students appearing intoxicated during the Free State High School's Firestarter Dance in late August.

Initially, plans called for the school board adopting the policy during its Nov. 14 meeting. But school officials postponed the "second reading" to Nov. 28 to give the Free State Site Council time to review the proposal.

Once the school district's new anti-drinking policy takes effect, all students will be tested for alcohol before dances. Andrea Diggs, administrative assistant with the school district's Safe School/Healthy Student department, holds the breath alcohol tester that will be used to screen students.

Once the school district's new anti-drinking policy takes effect, all students will be tested for alcohol before dances. Andrea Diggs, administrative assistant with the school district's Safe School/Healthy Student department, holds the breath alcohol tester that will be used to screen students.

"We want all the site councils to weigh in on it," said Rick Gammill, the school district's director of special operations and chairman of the committee that drafted the policy.

At Free State, the site council wants to hear from the students. "We've asked them - the student council -for their input," said council chairman Milton Scott.

"We've been talking about it, we have some questions," said Free State High School student body president Spencer Lott. The student council, he said, welcomes the discussion.

"High school drinking is not a new problem," he said. "It's great to see the community, administrators and site councils finally come together so we can have a policy that's uniform across town. Hopefully, we can decrease the amount of student drinking."

Lawrence High School's site council already has approved the policy.

Under the proposed policy, all students at all dances will be subject to two forms of testing.

Before entering the dance, each student will be required to blow on a hand-held monitor that will detect the presence of alcohol. Those who test positive will be given a breath-alcohol test to measure the level of alcohol.

The first test takes only 10 seconds, the second tests takes 20 to 30 seconds.

The breath-alcohol tests will be given in settings that ensure the student's privacy.

Those who have been drinking will be banned from school-sponsored dances for a calendar year. Also, they may be suspended or expelled from school.

"How much they've been drinking and whether they're drunk is irrelevant," Gammill said. "If you've been drinking, don't come to the dance. It's that simple."

Parents of students who've been drinking will be called and asked to come get their child. If parents cannot be reached or cannot leave work, the school's administrator will assume responsibility for ensuring the student returns home.

Other adult relatives - aunts, uncles, grandparents - may be called.

"The main thing is we're not going to let them drive home," Gammill said.

If approved Nov. 28, the new policy would likely take effect at the start of the spring semester.

"We'll need a little time to get all our security personnel trained on the new equipment," Gammill said.

Currently, students are not subject to testing at the dances.

LHS and FSHS each host eight or nine dances a year, including their respective proms in May.

Since the August complaints, school officials have added extra security at the dances.

"We've had a couple dances since then, and there hasn't been a problem," Gammill said. "We've had a lot parents show up, which is good."


Patty Buchholz 12 years, 7 months ago

To sweatpeagj: Instead of "allowing" you child to be tested, let's let them get in an accident and hurt or kill themselves or someone else. I do get tired of hearing parents talk about their children's rights. You notice I said 'children'. You have an obligation as a parent to know what your children are doing and be responsible for them. People tend to forget who the parent is in some families.

rousseau108 12 years, 7 months ago

Sweatpeagj, maybe you should brush up on the law before you start spouting off about illegal search and seizure and your child's rights. it has long been the case that kids at schools do not have the same level of privacy and corresponding "civil rights" as adults in the outside world. just like any student's locker can be searched, if they choose to come to a school function, they will be subject to the rules, including alcohol testing. if you don't want your kids tested, don't let them go to the dance, it's that simple.

sweatpeagj 12 years, 7 months ago

I would never allow my child to be tested. This is a violation of their rights. I do not agree with drinking for kids but I will not subject my child to testing that is illegal search and siezure. We all want the dances to go as smoothly as possible and have fun. I have chaperoned some of the dances that my child did atttend. I didn't see much in the way of drinking but hell, it was an open invitation by some of the girls to fondle. Why don't you start with the basics first. Don't allow gilrs to wear next to nothing when they enter the school funded dances or the guys to look like little thugs..I guess this is one of the situations that you have a dress code for school but not for school funded celebrations. Get your prioritys starightened out before you decide that you can illegally request any student to blow into a machine. Last time I looked you weren't the police of my child.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 7 months ago

Due to the fact that a huge amount of attention has been drawn to the matter the school may be protecting themselves from potential liability if a student were killed or killed others in an auto accident. We all know alcohol can/does impair to a critical point .

What people wear, on the other hand, likely does not present the same liability situation. While parents would never publicly or privately condone the act of fondling it is likely parents observed how their child was dressed as they walked out the door.

It would best if parents of males would explain that a womans choice of attire for the day is not an open invitation to fondle or indulge in sex necessarily. Preaching respect,restraint and self discipline is part of educating our offspring. Teach a male that a female will let you know how much she might be interested and until such time it's hands off. Here again alcohol may impair.

It would also be wise for the parents of females to bring about the discussion of what might be considered a "suggestive appearance" to a man who has little respect for women.

bhanson 12 years, 7 months ago

Yes the school system is trying to protect their own @$$es. They have to because they will be blamed if something happens, not the parent. I agree that inappropriate dress is also a problem but dressing like a thug or a slut does not have the same negative implications as driving drunk. This is not a conspiracy. The City of Lawrence and the Lawrence Public Schools are not in cahoots. I applaud the Lawrence Schools for taking this stand and for the people who don't like their kids being tested there are a couple of simple solutions. Number one don't let them attend the dance. Number two you host your own all school dance at an alternative location and you be legally responsible for the behavior of a few hundred high school aged students. Until any of you are willing to do this you need to get off of the school districts back and support their efforts to provide a safe environment for kids

pylon25 12 years, 7 months ago

I completely disagree with this whole thing. I realize that it is a precedent that students leave "some" of their rights on the school house steps, that doesnt make it right. I do feel its a complete and blatant violation of the students rights by forcing them to be tested, and if i were a parent of a LHS or Freestate student, I would be in contact with the ACLU, maybe get them stirred up about it. I realize the effort to create a safe environment, but dont do it at the cost of everyones civil rights. It would be no different than the city of lawrence giving breathalizers to everyone entering the post office. Don't want to take a breathalizer, then dont go to the post office, simple as that. Its just the government trying to create a safe environment right? Someone with a student at one of these schools should challenge this.

hawkeyes 12 years, 7 months ago

Funny that people act like this is the first time they have seen testing such as this. If you want a JOB in certain places, your urine is tested for drugs. Yes, I know, drugs are illegal and alcohol is not. However underage drinking is illegal and the school system is helping keep illegal activity out of their buildings. Good for them.

If you don't want your kids tested, don't let them go. If you think your kids are such adults you should give THEM the choice of "Do I want to go to the dance, or not?" Let THEM refuse and stay home if it is such a big deal to THEM. Personally, I prefer to teach my children about the bigger problems of the world than lead them to waste their energy on this.

pity2bu 12 years, 7 months ago

ACLU, what a bunch of liberal cry babies! Hope you all have kids in junior and high school or going to be there soon. It's not that they won't, it's when they do pick up a liquor bottle most of the time at mom and dad's house before the game and they get smashed. Just like usual, you will then turn your head and want to DENY this incident ever happened. DENIAL, it's the cool thing to do as a parent, or should I say when you want to be known as a cool parent with your teenager's friends.

Hope to God that your child is not statistic on the alcohol death roll that day and are not standing in line on the elevator to the PEARLIE GATES. Some teenagers do not drink, but for the parents who don't want to admit that their child does, then think what it would be like sitting at that granite monument at a local cemetery wishing they would had done something before it got to that point in total solitude. I'll keep watching the Obits!

Oh, another comment I have is regarding the dress code! I believe alcohol vs. showing skin is a no brainer, people don't die from showing skin, mostly just innocent people die from DRUNKS behind the wheel.

BLOW OR DON"T GO, it's not about you parents or the ACLU idiots. The students will abide by the rules or not attend the school functions. It's as simple as that!!

I have a student in one of the high schools, there is nothing to challenge. Hell, there is elementary children that consume alcohol. Illegal search and siezure, now that's a good one.

onehotmomma 12 years, 7 months ago

I understand that we need to keep alcohol away from minors, but what about the kids who don't drink before the dances, but do consume drugs? I don't care if they are legal or illegal drugs, if we monitor for alcohol only, we're sending the message to go ahead and smoke, snort, inject or swallow before a school function. After all, they monitor for alcohol consumption only

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