Butte school board has doubts on alcohol policy

2011-11-22T20:30:00Z 2011-11-23T05:43:55Z Butte school board has doubts on alcohol policyMontana Standard The Billings Gazette
November 22, 2011 8:30 pm  • 

BUTTE -- Butte school board members expressed concerns that a proposed policy to catch kids drinking alcohol at school events could make teachers responsible to handle drunken students by giving breath tests.

"I just don't feel comfortable allowing our personnel to get hurt over something like this," said Patti Hepola, board chairwoman. "I wouldn't want to be accusing a 230-pound kid who I think is drunk and (have him) punching me."

The board was considering a policy from a committee that would give administrators and teachers the ability to give Breathalyzer tests to students suspected of drinking. The policy also had an "implied consent" provision stating that kids who refuse to take a test were admitting to use or possession of alcohol.

Superintendent Linda Reksten said other school districts have similar policies that are widely applied at events. And she said it works to have staff apply the tests.

"As long as the person is trained, this gives broad scope abilities for an administrator to give a Breathalyzer," she said. "In other districts, every student attending the prom has to take an alcohol sensor test."

But several board members said they were deeply concerned with the proposal. They said matters such as this are better handled by police officers.

"Why would we want the administrators and teachers to be able to do this?" asked Carol Wold, trustee.

And Ann Boston noted that under a certain age, alcohol tests cannot be given unless the student's parent gives consent.

The matter was up for first reading. Board members said it needed to be refined before further consideration.

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