NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Students suspected of being drunk may soon have to take a breath test in one Rockland County community.
The Nyack Board of Education has been discussing the proposal for months, and it’s on the agenda for Tuesday night’s board meeting.
Under the policy, any student who appears intoxicated would be administered two breath tests within 10 minutes, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported. It would apply to students in school and at school-sponsored events, including dances, CBS2 reported.
As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, slurred speech, the inability to follow instructions, or simply watery eyes could all be grounds for a breathalyzer.
The proposal was met with skepticism by some students.
“People won’t care if they get caught. I think it’s useless,” Khadar Smith said.
If approved, Nyack High School would become the first district in the Lower Hudson Valley to ask students to take a breath test if suspected of drinking.
Superintendent Dr. James Montesano said it’s not meant to be punitive.
“These policies are not designed to punish,” Montesano said. “It’s really just to make sure our kids are safe.”
Montesano said no one will be forced to take the test, and offenders would be guided to counseling.
“If you refuse a test we think that there is reasonable suspicion,” Montesano said. “We simply just invoke the consequences of the policy, which primarily are counseling based, turn you over to your parents, you will have some meetings with our student-assisted counselor and then certainly there is some discipline involved as well.”
Montesano added that it could also serve to exonerate some students.
“For some it may be a trump card to say, ‘you think I’m drinking and I’m not,’ and I will show you I’m not,” he said.
Student representative Hunter Andrasko works with the school board. He convinced parents to change an early version of the policy that included having a flushed face as a reasonable suspicion for intoxication, a condition he called unfair especially at sporting events.
“People thought as you were entering the stadium, everyone would be lined up taking the breathalyzer test,” he said.
There may still be legal issues. other districts nationally have run into problems with objections raised by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“There are several reasons to be concerned about educators using law enforcement tactics in schools, including the proposed breathalyzer policy. Schools should be nurturing, safe environments for children, not places where they are made to feel like criminals,” Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberities Union Donna Lieberman said.
At least one parent appeared to support the idea.
“I agree with some of that, but you can’t watch kids twenty-four-seven. If you can have another eye on them it’s helpful,” Jeanette Daily said.
The policy could be voted on as early as Tuesday night. If approved it will go into effect next school year.
The policy would also apply to any guest a student brought to school functions.