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How should schools deal with students caught using alcohol before or during school dances?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on November 13, 2005

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Photo of Jessica Gallegos

“They should call their parents to come pick them up. They should suspend them from school, but I don’t think the police should be involved.”

Photo of Randy Mushrush

“They should punish them, but nothing too harsh. Just suspend them for a couple of days and let kids be kids.”

Photo of Chelsea Bell

“They should just turn them over to the police and charge them with underage drinking. It should be between the student and the proper authorities.”

Photo of Ashley Broockerd

“They should serve some serious detention time and do some lengthy community service.”

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Linda Aikins 12 years, 6 months ago

Gosh you have to get up early to beat e_m on here!

When I was a kid, I would have said, give them $10. Now as an old person, I say be tough on them.

I've become my parents.

juscin3 12 years, 6 months ago

DANG! I think em has their comp fixed for when the ots ? is asked they get right up and be the first one to post. LOL I don't know about the question though. I agree, they will find some way to get out of it to where they don't get caught. They get the ideas from tv, news, people talking about it.

sweatpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

Thank you e_m. I think that this will create an even bigger problem than it would to solve one. I have chaperoned dances and the biggest problem was not alcohol but dope. Think about it..most of the kids are not stupid enough to show up where it can be detected that they are high on something. I wonder though..doesn't this fall under the guidlines of illegal search and seizure? For all the kids that do show up and haven't been drinking what messege does this send? "Even though I don't drink I have to go through the same humilationa nd invasion as a known drinker??" Parents should look into the legal aspect of this testing and find out what their rights and the rights of their child are.

redbird 12 years, 6 months ago

This is an issue that may result in the individual itself... I do not believe the student/s should be reported to the police,not all of them....let me explain.There are the ones that show up "buzzed" and go about the whole dance complacent and never being disorderly,these are the ones that are hard to find....but with the breathalyzer machine they can be caught....these are the ones that are better off dealing with their parent/s picking them and their vehicles up from the dance and getting what most likely would be worse than the judicial system would pass on them..... Then there are the troublemakers,the ones that show up deliberately drunk and more often just to show off and start trouble....these individuals are usually habitual about this not only at dances but pretty much everywhere else.....these individuals should be dealt with otherwise and only in the sense that they are disturbing the peace of the these situations,and most likely will be more trouble if ask to simply leave the dance....if and when large fights occur,that are attributed to alcohol,these should be dealt with by the "proper" authorities. Perhaps a school suspension which deals with a more lengthy stay at school,say whatever the suspension is,that is tacked on to the period that they have to attend school,but with a legal contract stating that they understand that by signing it that they are legally bound to it to attend the lengthened school year for punishment of attending a school event under the influence of alcohol. I was one of those who most frequently attended most or all school events "buzzed",thought it was cool,but now I praise younger people who haven't done alcohol or drugs,it is far harder to not do either in the teens years just because of peer pressure.It takes far more control to "not" do either than it does to do either and then quit!!!

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 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 .

Public schools have resisted becoming intensely involved in this situation for decades. Not only will it offer some protection for the school district it may ultimately save some young lives. Will this policy lead to the use of other drugs? Pharmaceutical downers can be equally as dangerous as too much alcohol and become more intense when the two are mixed.

I'm all for sex education. Maybe it's time to include alcohol and drug education provided the information is fact not fiction.

sweatpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

Scenerio 1 Students show up at the dance..get tested..negative results..decide to go outside..use drug of choice..come back in..continue to dance. They passed the test to get into the dance but hey, they still managed to get buzzed without any problem. When the students are at the dances they are allowed to enter and exit at will through out the might. How does testing provide a solution? Scenerio 2 Students show up..get tested..negative..and then they get upset..think that if they are going to get tested why not give them a reason to test. As we know..teenagers are very rebellious and will always try to figure another way to get away with something. They have the same mentality that a lot of people have and that is try to get one over on the opressor. How many people have gone to work..saw a sign or post that staes not to do a particular action but have gone ahead and done it amyway to see if they would actually get caught? How many people have driven a car over the speedlimit and felt great about not getting caught? How many adults have gone out and had a few drinks and then driven home? We, as adults, are the role models but how well are we teaching them? I know that when my son started driving and I remarked that he was driving to fast or not using his turn signals..his response.."mom you don't always follow the speed limit" or whatever the case may be. I just find the whole thought of testing a huge problem without a real solution.

redbird 12 years, 6 months ago

I thought about this while posting earlier and there is no agreeable way of controlling the abuse of "any" drug in these instances.....I know of kids who are "prescribed" ridalin and who ocassionally take a few more to enjoy whatever it does YIKES!!!! Still I don't think of this as "hard-line crackdowns",it is simply trying to create a more hospitable environment for those who are out to enjoy life without the use of drugs and alcohol.This is a school event,which is a state and federally funded organization.....would you want a teacher or parent chaperoning a dance being drunk or high??This would be an outrage and even worse,and most likely,a reason for many parent to sue the school!!!! I don't want total government or "big brother" control on anything,I just want kids to be safe while having fun.....I have too many scars from the mistakes I made foolishly thinking I was cool being drunk or high at a dance or football game,school...... Don't get me wrong,I do drink(socially sometimes more but always with a designated driver) and in my past have done drugs(regrettably),but I'm not on a soapbox telling everyone not to do either though I do admire those who abstain from doing drugs or alcohol,it is really hard not to in most or all social climates,it is not isolated to one kind of element as most people think.

sweatpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

We already teach our children about drug and alcohol abuse. Where do you think D.A.R.E. and MADD came from. I am not saying that schools shouldn't have some way to enforce good clean fun. What I am saying is that this could lead to a much larger problem than fixing an existing one. I have been told instances where a teacher or responsible adult role model in the school has gotten high or drank with our children. I have heard from countless students which teacher they would like to chaperone them because the person has made remarks that didn't discourage drinking or drugs. have the scars from your mistakes but when you were making them didn't you realize and warned about the choices? I can't believe that someone didn't talk to you about issues such as that. You didn't listen so what makes you think that this generation of children will listen better? Because you have had a problem? I just want someone to be realistic. I don't condone drinking or any drug use for children but I am not niave enough to believe that because I have thoughts against it that this will stop them from experimenting. Look around you, most children are on a prescribed "high" from a trusted doctor and they sell/give the medications to others. An illegal breathalizer test administered to our children will not prevent them continuing these practices. We have educated our children to the max on sex, and look at the numbers alone on how many teenage pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases that are prevelant in our society. Why have whole communities been tested for std's and found to be rampent through out our schools? Oh, because we educated them and told thm to abstain. Young girls may technically be virgins but how did they end up with an STD anyway? By oral sex practices. I have found that the more we preach to children the right and wrong things in life the more tempting it is for them to want to experience it. Teach them knowledge but don't forget that they are individuals with their own mindset and that's just how it is. " Let me learn from my own mistakes not yours" is a pretty comon theme for teens when asked about how they feel on these issues. They don't want to learn from your mistakes but through their own.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

One of a students mistakes may well be showing up at the prom with alcohol on the the breath. When the children are taken home or picked up by parents that will be another lesson learned by their own mistake.

This policy never stated the objective was to be a cure all for teen behavior. So much very public concern over the matter created an issue for USD 497 so this is their response. There is the possibility that a life or two may be saved.

thunderbuns 12 years, 6 months ago

Make them watch the Texas-KU game over and over and over and over..................................

sharron5rs 12 years, 6 months ago

bhanson, they are all criminals? I supposed YOU NEVER did anything wrong in your youth? Get real. Hey why dont we have you at the door. Im sure that would scare them more than anything else would. I didnt know there were soooo many people around here that never did anything that was "aginst" the law. That goes for Ricky Gamill too.Let us all be realistic about this. We all want our kids protected and safe, but this seems a bit much. I wonder how long it will be before the kids will be "pat down" before they can enter a dance or other school activity?

sunflower_sue 12 years, 6 months ago

If it happens to be my kids, the school should call me. My kids fear me much more than they do anyone in the school system. I have the power to make their lives complete he!!. I am the proper authority.

I think Chelsea Bell knows what I'm talking about!

italianprincess 12 years, 6 months ago

Sun_Sue has hit it on the nail. My kids know they are going to be in worse trouble with me then with anyone else. I've had the talk with them and they know.......... " Don't mess with the wrath of the Mom "

bhanson 12 years, 6 months ago

They are breaking the law. Treat them like our society would expect any criminal to be treated, arrest them. Choices have consequences. I applaud the Lawrence School District for taking this stand.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 6 months ago

Italianprincess, did you see my answer to your question a couple of days ago? it was rather late that day.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 6 months ago

note to all: yesterday, I posted my poem about Bob and his sword...was a bit late in case you missed it.

on the OTS topic here:

not enough structure in regular classes it often parents aren't correcting their kids at home either.

I say, caning might be a good alternative...not hard enough for scarring, but just a little corporal punishment to push the reset button on their little bums; they already knew it was wrong to drink and chose to do it anyway. one or two, and no more punishments like this would be necessary, you think?

works in Singapore.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 6 months ago

Well...if they were drinking Natty Light or Milwaukee's Beast then they should be prosecuted for poor taste.

italianprincess 12 years, 6 months ago


Yes I went back and looked. Its funny how so many people have moved from Cali to other parts of the U.S. My mom is moving back in June of 06, but my family has decided to stay here in Lawrence.

I just don't want to move back right now.....its so crowded there now.

gccs14r 12 years, 6 months ago

"They are breaking the law. Treat them like our society would expect any criminal to be treated, arrest them."

Do you have the same attitude about school bullies? They're permitted to terrorize other students with words and deeds that would at a minimum get them fired in the real world, if not jailed for assault.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 6 months ago

IP: yes, it is no wonder.
some of the laws that California state legislature passes are really wacko. taxes, especially property taxes are huge. and all the reforms voted down. soon, calif will have the highest unemployment in the nation--duh.
comparing Douglas county and Monterey county CA...monterey county literally has 'twice' the unemployment as does douglas county KS.

nice to vist, but I sure wouldn't wanna live there now.

sweatpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

Do you even have children observer? You sound kind of ignorant. Kids do make poor choices that is all part of it. Do you just spout crap without really reading or understanding what is being written here? Not any of us parents want our children to do these things and the ladies have it right..beware the wrath of mom. My son would be messing up when he was with other kids and at their houses when I asked him why he didn't play the BS games at my house...feared what I would do to him. I wonder if you just write to see your name up there or if you have a solution to the problem instead of being part of it. My problem is that it isn't a solution to anything and will cause more issues than it solves. Plus, I have done some research and it is classified as illegal search and seizure. get a clue..get some information..then come back and mess with this mom.

jayhawktownie 12 years, 6 months ago

what research do you have that says it is illegal? what judicial precedent are you citing? This sort of testing goes on in schools all over kansas and the rest of the country. Lawrence is actually fairly behind the ball on this initiative. I don't believe this will significantly deter drinking by students, it will just deter them from attending the dances. However, i can't really understand why a parent would be against this policy, angry that the school is setting the example that you should have made clear long before?

jwmound 12 years, 6 months ago

what next? are the schools gonna make sure kids are wearing clean underwear before they enter? Maybe even a retina scan, or fingerprinting before they enter,... Not to mention drug dogs, armed guards,.. boy I bet the dances are gonna be real fun...

bhanson 12 years, 6 months ago

.In loco parentis. In lieu of Parents. Every school official in the state of Kansas has the right to do what they feel any reasonable parent would do when dealing with children. Illegal Search and Seizure does not apply in the school setting if a students might be putting themselves or others at risk and it is a school official requesting the search is done not a police officer. If I suspected my child was drinking and putting themselves in dangerous situations then I absolutely would breath test them to confirm my suspicions. As for bullies, yes they should be arrested for assault. High school students what to be treated like adults except when they are made to be responsible for their actions. I'm a teacher and I would love use the legal system to prosecute some of these students or criminals however you want to look at the situation. As for locking up parents it is the parent's responsibility to make sure their son or daughter is behaving in a reasonable manner. Yes kids will get away with things, but for the parents who turn a blind eye or worse provide alcohol in a safe setting for teenagers then yeas they should be prosecuted right along side of their children

bhanson 12 years, 6 months ago

One more thing. It is not the schools job to provide the students with dances. They should stop. No Homecoming, Prom, or any other dance. Let the parents who know how to run things and work with young adults be legally responsible for a couple of hundred teenagers. It is not the school districts main concerns that the dances are fun. The number one concern is the safety of all the people at the dance.

sweatpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

Actually it is illegal search and seizure. There is not probable cause to test every student who attends dances. I was a very involved parent with every aspect of my son's education. I discouraged him from going to these dances after chaperoning a few of them. From what I saw the teachers allowed a hell of a lot more than I as a concerned parent ever would. Not all parents turn a blind eye to what is happening in all aspects of their childrens lives. Your attitude really makes me very happy that my other three children do not go to a public school. I think it is too easy for teachers to blame the parents and vice versa. I wonder why these issues never came into play when everyone went to school in one room. Maybe it wasn't an us against them mentality. Get you facts straight..better yet..try to test a student who's parent has not consented to this and see what happens. I know that parents do have a say in the treatment of their child in a PUBLIC forum. I didn't sign corporal punishment papers for my three children to go to private school and let them try to hit one of them. I parent without hitting and with reasonable actions resulting from behavior that is unbecoming a lady or a gentleman. Find any of the boys that I fostered and then tell me I have ever turned a blind eye to anything they even thought they got away with. For a teacher you judge all parents pretty limited. You may see a majority of parents who don't care and expect teachers to dicsipline for them but not all of us feel like that. If you raised them or birthed them then you can test them for whatever thing you feel necassary..until then..don't try to do with kids you mentor and teach. Dicsipline belongs in the home not in the school.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 6 months ago

Bearded gnome, I heard that there has been some garden gnome stealing running rampant lately. Would you know anything about this? Just shameful!

bearded_gnome 12 years, 6 months ago

sunny-sue, ya know, they found my site in gotta start over...

jayhawktownie 12 years, 6 months ago

sweat, i don't mean to harp but you are completely wrong on your legality argument. There is nothing in judicial precedent that says this is illegal. If you are so sure that this is unconstitutional, why don't you bring some specific arguments regarding why? If you have done such a good job raising and disciplining your children, wouldn't your children have the ability to realize that these tests are for the common good and not an accusation aimed at them? It is an unfortunate situation in America that we have to legislate to deal with the lowest common denominator but it is a reality. In the grand scheme of things, having the innocent kids take 20 seconds for a test is a decent trade off if you can keep one drunk teenager off the road on a saturday night.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 6 months ago

well, aren't we busy here for sunday night on OTS!

coincidentally, on the drudgereport tonight:> down a ways you'll see the headline: "jealous bullies" beat another girl...takes place in wales (that's UK for the geographically impaired), and she was fifteen.
she was rather seriously hurt.

also on Drudge was Howard Dean ducking out on facing his republican counterpart; and Hillary speaks in favor of Israel's new wall to stop Palestinian terrorists.

the parents who've spoke up here, like Sweatpea, I'm sure are the good, involved, parents. probably more involved than mine were. it seems there are a lot of parents who just send their kids to school and don't expect the right behavior from their kids. 0

killjoy 12 years, 6 months ago

Now if they're sober, can two kids of the same sex slow dance together?

What if they just put roundabouts at the entrances to the school to weed (no pun intended)out the kids who are under the influence?

bearded_gnome 12 years, 6 months ago

45 here, not bad for a sunday OTS on the board!

so, last week, the city commish didn't consider yet another about 40 hours, they're meeting again...

what will be proposed next?

night all and if you have a dog, give your dog a good hug, its good for you and your dog.

jonas 12 years, 6 months ago

Hmmmmm. . . . a whole day, and only two mentions of Roundabouts.

Are we healing, or is it just because it's a weekend?

sweatpeagj 12 years, 6 months ago

sharron, they actually do have something like that in place. All bags and backpacks do get checked if they want to bring them into the school dances. This, I do not havea problem with. I discourage kids from bringing anything just on the chance that it can get lost or missplaced. Let's not say stolen then we will have even more teachers who can say I told you so. I am sure that the teacher is as pure as the driven snow and can point fingers at children maturing and parents not caring. This would not even be an issue if more parents took an active role in actually parenting and supervising there children. I wonder how you would define probable cause.. great and mighty teacher. Must have missed that definition while preaching to kids about how wrong and bad they are. Teachers sometimes feel their role is greater than that of teacher and mentor. I wonder if you are one of the ones that think Religious education should be taught in the public schools also. Last I knew, even when having probable cause to search lockers and personal belongings, you had to have police there. In my experience, the kids that were into drinking only told their parents they were going to the dance and not showing up. They decided they would rather be out partying. My facts are wrong? OOps better tell my husband ,who is a cop ,that what he has learned is wrong and make sure that all the illegal things he fights against are put aside to make room for all those "bad" teenagers who are unsupervised and their parents don't give a crap. I wonder what my foster kids would have done if I wasn't the one standing up for them and making sure no more damage was done by their real parents?? Maybe we should have them DNA sampled while we are at it..then we can make sure that everyone of them feels that adults are as stupid as the majority of them think we are anyway.

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