ANDOVER —The Andover High School Council is proposing that students submit to breath tests before being allowed into school dances and some other functions.
The proposal “will eliminate a certain population of the school from going to the dances,” said student Brian Wivell, student liaison to the School Committee. “But it might also open up these dances to a different crowd of people that might have been intimidated or afraid to go.”
The proposal for a pilot program is on the agenda for tonight’s School Committee meeting.
High School Principal Chris Lord will suggest a test run at one of the first school-sponsored events of 2013.
In a letter to the School Committee, Lord said the school “is strongly committed to providing an alcohol and drug-free school environment for all students, faculty, and staff. This has been a challenge since in previous years, large numbers of alcohol abuse cases have occurred at dances.”
Two school years ago, students lost a total of 93 days of school due to suspensions because of alcohol use, according to Lord. That number jumped to 127 for the last school year ending in June - for a 36 percent increase.
The proposal was conceived by the School Council, which consists of students, teachers and parents.
As proposed, “all students attending the dance/school event will be given a Breathalyzer test which requires the students to lightly blow in the direction of the device from a distance of 4-6 inches,” Lord said
Should a student receive a positive reading, a second test would be done to eliminate the possibility of a false positive, according to Lord.
If a student tests positive after two readings, he or she would be sent home and possibly face other disciplinary action, including a three-day suspension and completing two outside family counseling sessions.