What do you think of a school’s requirement that all members of the senior class submit to a breathalyzer test?

High school seniors in St. Charles, Minn., were required to take a breathalyzer test last week at graduation practice. School officials suspected that some members of the class had been drinking. Today’s Question: What do you think of a school’s requirement that all members of the senior class submit to a breathalyzer test?

  • reggie

    Ridiculous. If school officials had suspicions about “some members” of the class, they should have referred those individuals to the police to protect them (the students) from harming themselves or others by driving under the influence. They should not assume the guilt of the entire class.

  • Andrew

    I applaud the measure. In the interest of student safety, if one student has been drinking, more than likely others have been as well. It’s not about guilt, it’s about ensuring the common welfare of the community.

  • kim

    I don’t know all the circumstances, but I wasn’t aware that anyone other than law enforcement had the right to do something like this, involuntarily. Even then, I think they need a reason. (When you get your driver’s license, I believe you consent to such testing as a condition of getting the license.) So, my gut reaction is that this was pretty over the top and there had to be a better way to handle the situation. If I had been one of the students, I’m pretty sure I’d have refused to take the test and I would have been innocent of the alleged infraction. What ever happened to common sense?

  • Jack

    The administration did the responsible thing by erring on the side of safety.

    Had any of the so-called impaired students injured or killed someone while driving under the influence, the school district (taxpayer) would have been on the hook for litigation and the resulting damages/penalties. The damages would have be even greater if was proven that the administration had any reason to believe that there were students under the influence on school property and had willfully ignored the potential danger to the student body.

  • A Vee

    This is exactly the type of stunt my high school would have tried to pull. I hated being constantly made to feel like a criminal even though I was a good kid. It made me resent the both the kids who were misbehaving and the authority figures. I feel like that environment only encouraged bad behavior, or at the very least apathy.

    Looking at it as an adult now, it seems the administrators’ hearts were in the right place (enforcing the rules and public safety) but I’m not sure their actions were quite the right thing. Makes me wonder what other actions could have been taken to prevent or discourage pre-grad drinking.

  • Steve the Scenic

    Underage drinking is still unlawful in the state. Being under the influence on school property is (at a minimum) against school policy.

    As best I can tell, no one was arrested and the school used a ‘light touch” with no ‘real’ punishment against the offenders. Well done on the part of the administrators.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    Whatever happened to the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty?” Oh, wait…..that only applies to adults, doesn’t it?

  • Steve the Cynic

    The administration in the case that raises this question was dealing with an emergency. when making decisions in emergencies, it’s reasonable to ask: Which way would be worse if we turn out to be wrong? The St. Charles HS administration did a reasonable thing under the circumstances, but if they were to formulate a policy to apply in future such circumstances, they shouldn’t assume people are guilty until proven otherwise.

  • Jim G

    The St. Charles administration’s actions were prudent. If teachers were noticing strange behavior at the practice graduation they would have not been worth their salt had they ignored intoxication signals from their students. We wring our hands when drunken teenagers kill themselves driving themselves to their next party house during the graduation season. We have many dead graduates in this state as proof of the fact that drunken teenagers, graduation, and cars don’t mix well. Hats off to the St. Charles school district’s courage: they’re protecting their charges from danger for as long and as best they could.

  • Hiram

    I believe it’s a harbinger of the new fascism, another indication of the moral decline of our society.

  • todd

    I appreciate MPR’s good coverage on this. It is one of those headline-grabbers that initially smacks of injustice and Big Brother. However, after hearing the interview with the school representative, the response seems not just appropriate, but well-measured. Give a listen if you haven’t yet; the coverage was given the depth it required. This is a great example of why I love MPR.

  • Craig

    Rejection of school administration ukases is a rite of passage. Hopefully some students declined to blow for the principal on principle.

    At my graduation they forbid the caps-to-the-wind tradition as disorderly. Perhaps it was one last test, and those who disobeyed passed.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The beginning of fascism? I don’t think so. The kids who went through that episode are likely to develop a healthy skepticism of capricious authority.

  • Mary

    I never thought I’d be the one who would applaud the schools actions. In this case I think they did the right thing. Your coverage did an excellent job of presenting the facts. If the school district were to form a policy saying they were going to test all students in the future, I would totally be against such a policy. Those tests are intended for law enforcement officers to be used in their best judgment, not for schools to use to enforce their policies.

  • Glen Enander

    I applaud the school’s actions. Imagine if one of the students had died in a car crash on the way home. Then the school would face criticism for doing nothing. By the way, why isn’t the question this: “What do you think of parents who raised their children so badly that they showed up at a school function intoxicated?” Why should a school, put in an impossible position by irresponsible parents and their equally irresponsible kids, be criticized for protecting public safety? By the way, flinging around the word fascism in reference to this demonstrates a true ignorance of history.

  • Jim!!!

    Terrible behavior by these officials. Our high school citizens should be treated with dignity and respect.

  • Ann

    It was a good decision. Taxpayers pay for their education.The citizens of the community allow them to drive. Along with these types of privileges and rights come responsibilities.Maybe there will be some peer pressures to do the right thing when there are consequences for everyone. They have to learn that their actions affect others and that employers expect responsible employees.

  • Jim!!!

    Everyone assumes all of these students are driving after? DWI is the responsibility of the state patrol to enforce. It also falls within our civil liberties to serve underage family members alcoholic beverages at home. If I had been there I hope I would have encouraged students to refuse the test.

    Commencement is a celebration of completing a big milestone, period.

    Maybe we should have breathalyzer tests as a condition of voting? How about that?

  • Jeanne

    Agree with Reggie – heavy handed and as Kim said, unfairly punished and humiliated all of the innocent. Observe the students, test the ones giving CAUSE for suspicion. Blanket testing just is a cop out by administrators taking easy way out and covering their liabilities.

  • Disco

    Totally ridiculous. Invasion of privacy, IMHO. But legally, what about probable cause? Was the test administered by law enforcement of some overzealous school “officials?”

  • david

    Excellent idea! If they are going to let children operate cars then by all means test them for at least the rest of us’s well being. Better yet lets make the drinking age 16 and the driving age 21.

  • Philip

    Dumb idea. Someone didn’t do a good enough job swatting the Good Idea Fairy.

  • GregX

    No different than going through the TSA line at the airport. If you choose to be in a public space/event where others are likley to ignore the published laws or rules – you all may have to accept the conditions of presence. In terms of fairness to all – everyone has to be tested so that all objectively guilty persons are found, not just those “usual suspects” that erroneous and often faulty “stereotypical” profiling would define for special treatment. My daughters school uses breathalyzers for dances and other events to eliminate the illegal problems so they can deal with the purely teen-stupid at the event.

  • CarlS

    I’d ask: when and how often would they take the test? Kids who are determined to drink will find a way around this. Maybe having a better educational program about the truth and dangers of alcohol is a better deterrent.

    Education in our schools – now there’s a concept.

  • Jeff

    A better comparison than airport security is to compare this to sobriety checkpoints – roadblocks set up by the police with the intent of catching drunk drivers. They either test all drivers or drivers at predetermined intervals (like every 7th car). These have been found to be unconstitutional. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures” and states that this right “shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation…” It has been found that drunk driving checkpoints are a warrant-less and supcious-less search without probable cause. What was done to the students in St. Charles was also unconstitutional. At the airport, the stakes are different and the safety of an airliner is more important and it outweighs the infringement of the passengers’ rights. I am guessing that they were trying to prevent rowdy behavior at the graduation rehearsal since they were tested on their way in. Rowdy behavior is much different from airline safety. Even if they were trying to prevent drunk driving, like sobriety checkpoints, that doesn’t justify the infringement of the students’ rights.

    *Of course* it would be a tragedy if one of the students died in a drunk driving accident on their way home from the rehearsal. But that could have happened even if everyone was sober. The *possibility* of something bad happening doesn’t justify the *certainty* of a bad thing happening (that being the stripping away of an individual’s rights).

  • Ann

    I want to agree that MPR’s interview with the person that made the decision was excellent. He made it clear why he felt he had to make the decision.He sounded like a person that would be an asset to any school or company.That interview should be on the radio again because I think that more people would understand what he did.He considered all of his responsibilities and had to make a decision within a short period of time. He was willing to make an unpopular decision after considering all the facts. I wish we had more leaders like him.

  • David Poretti

    That darn Bill of Rights! If It gets in the way…