Parents Steamed over Surprise Breathalyzer Tests for Seniors

Students showing up for their graduation ceremony rehearsal at the St. Charles High School last Friday got a pop quiz they weren't expecting. Administrators told those arriving that they would not be allowed to participate in the rehearsal or walk at graduation unless they submitted to a breathalyzer test on the spot.

Jim Welp, the parent of one the seniors, said he found out about the test when his son Alec called him from the rehearsal saying that he'd just been given one. After hanging up with his son, Welp said he drove over to the school to confirm his story and to find out on whose authority was the test being administered.

"They said they did, I said you don't, I said you have to have probable cause," he said.

Faculty told Welp and other parents they had smelled alcohol on some of the students.

"I said you can't test them all because some of the students have alcohol," he said

School policy at St. Charles dictates that if a staff member suspects a student of being intoxicated on school grounds, the police should be called to the scene. However, the district superintendent Mark Roubinek said that the teachers present at the rehearsal said that some of the seniors had alcohol on their breath, and a group of about twenty students were acting erratically, and in manner that raised the suspicion that they were intoxicated. As a result, the administrators felt that they couldn't take the risk that some of them might be driving home in that state, and when they shared their concerns with Roubinek, everyone decided to "take the next step." In these circumstances, "the next step" meant administering the breathalyzer test to all 73 students who attended the rehearsal.

The school officials declined to reveal the exact number of students who tested positive, but indicated that at least ten did.

All the graduating seniors walked at graduation the following Sunday, even those who failed the breathalyzer, although Roubinek said that they were otherwise disciplined.

Some parents are now considering filing a lawsuit against the school, although most are rejecting that option in favor of showing up at the next meeting of the district school board, scheduled for June 11th, to express their disapproval.

06 11, 2012
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