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Despite some concerns, breathalyzer tests common at SHS dances

The mother of a Sherwood High School student was surprised to learn that every student who attended the recent homecoming dance was administered a 'portable passive breath alcohol test.'

'I do not agree with such a practice and believe that this testing presumes guilt,' said Kendal Peltier. 'I am curious as to the reason and the data that showed that the breathalyzer was a necessary decision. I have not been able to get answers to my questions from the school as far as how long testing has been going on, who made the decision to implement testing - School Board, principal, etc. - and what concrete evidence was present to show that this was necessary or if there are stats showing the number of drunk kids at dances?

'The school did call me back but didn't have answers to all of my questions. I was surprised also to learn that the parents that I talked to - just a handful - had no idea that Sherwood schools did this and that their kids who attended the dance didn't even tell their parents that they had been tested.'

The SHS student handbook states under Procedures: 'Portable Passive Breath Alcohol Tests may be administered at extra-curricular activities such as dances, games, etc.'

According to Principal Carlos Sequeira, the test has been administered at the three high school dances each year for about five years and has proven to be an excellent deterrent.

'I understand that there used to be problems, but since we started administering the test, there has not been a single incident at a dance,' Sequeira said. 'At the homecoming dance, no one was turned away. It is a deterrent and a reminder that school events are drug- and alcohol-free.

'Every student who walks through the door gets tested. It is not intrusive. Students just blow into the equipment, and a digital readout appears. It's part of our culture. Students expect it. They know there will be a breathalyzer test. It makes the families and students feel comfortable and assured that the school is a safe place to be.'

Even though the student handbook states that the test may be administered at games, Sequeira said that hasn't been done because it has not proven to be necessary.

'(Alcohol has) never been a problem at games,' he said. 'Adults take tickets as kids come in, and there are a lot of adults around compared to the dances. We've never had a need to inspect backpacks or bags, and we don't search them at games.'