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Board nixed random tests

School officials were worried about legal issues

— Concerns about the legality of randomly selecting students for Breathalyzer tests stopped the procedure from taking place at last weekend’s Steamboat Springs High School prom.

School Board Vice President Jeff Troeger contacted attorney Dick Lyons on May 3 after learning high school officials planned to pull students aside at the after prom party and use a Portable Breath Test to test blood-alcohol content.

On Thursday, School Board President Denise Connelly said board members exchanged e-mails the day they learned about the planned tests because they were concerned about legal implications of random testing. Connelly said Lyons questioned the necessity of Breathalyzer tests unless there was a high incidence level of alcohol consumption. Connelly also said random Breathalyzer tests could be perceived as a violation of students’ rights.



Debbi Funston, the resource officer at the high school, said although no random PBT tests were administered Saturday, some students who were suspected of being intoxicated were tested. Such tests are district procedure, Funston said.

Connelly said the board is aware those tests are conducted and board members are comfortable with tests being conducted when there is strong suspicion a student has consumed alcohol.



Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich and assistant principal Kevin Taulman said the decision to administer random PBTs was reached after a contingent of students requested them.

“They were tired of students showing up intoxicated at prom,” Taulman said.

The number of students who approached Taulman and Knezevich about random Breathalyzer tests was less than a dozen, but Taulman estimated they were speaking on behalf of 30 or so upperclassmen.

Connelly said she was aware students had asked for the tests Saturday, but she said even if half the high school students signed their rights away for the random PBTs, the other did not, which was a concern.

“I had made a promise to our students and parents, but I had to follow the direction of the board,” Knezevich said Thursday.

Steamboat’s efforts to conduct random Breathalyzer tests made nationwide news, but the concept of random Breathalyzer tests for high school students is not entirely unheard of, Taulman said. Two schools at which he worked previously did random testing.

– To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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