BFUHS: No alcohol test at promBy Susan Smallheer STAFF WRITER | May 11,2010WESTMINSTER – Students attending the Bellows Falls Union High School's junior prom won't be tested for alcohol as they enter the dance, the School Board decided Monday night.
On a 6-1 vote, with two abstentions, the board even banned having a breathalyzer at the prom, which is being held at the Chester American Legion in Chester in two weeks.
The board heard from about a dozen students and a few parents who said that to blanket test everyone, without having any reason to do so, was a violation of students' rights.
Eliza Masure, who graduated last year, said she had been at the last three proms and there were no breathalyzers, and the dances went smoothly.
Masure said if the School Board allowed alcohol testing at the prom, they should test students at all school functions, including ball games and other activities.
And she said if the board tested for alcohol, then it would start testing for drugs and other substances.
Masure said it was more important that the school spend money on sheriff's deputies testing students on educational classes about drug and alcohol use.
One senior at the school, Nadine Rowell of Saxtons River, said it was "incredibly insulting" that students dress up that night, only to be treated "like criminals" by forcing them to take a breath test to get into the prom.
Board member Margaret Perry of Rockingham made a motion to not just ban alcohol testing, but not to allow a breathalyzer at the dance, and if students were found to be drinking, that their parents be called and the students be sent home with them.
Even a suggestion by Board Chairman David Clark of Westminster to hold a receiving line made up of the dance's chaperones and the school administration was rejected by the board.
Voting for Margaret Perry's motion were Perry, Laurie Rowell, Matt Guild , Russ Capron and Jan Mitchell-Love, all of Rockingham, and Dan Axtell of Westminster. Voting against the motion was Stephen Major of Westminster.
Clark, the board chairman, did not vote, and abstaining from the vote was Stephen Fine of Athens and Jack Bryar or Grafton. Major said that he had constitutional questions about blanket testing, but he said he was in favor of having a breathalyzer at the dance to be used if needed if some students showed they had been drinking or were "intoxicated.".
Major said in the 12 years he's been on the high school board, there have been three deaths after school dances and he said the testing was a way of showing that the School Board and parents cared.
"I want you to be safe," said Major, who has a daughter at the school.
But Major was in a tiny minority, as the board members said they felt that the breathalyzer was unnecessarily intrusive and unwarranted.
Watching the discussion were three Windham County deputy sheriffs, including the school's resource officer, Jessica Cenate, who along with a school substance abuse counselor, had proposed the breath test to the board two weeks ago.
Cenate refused to answer questions after the board's vote.
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