TIVERTON — Effective immediately, Tiverton students may be asked to take a breathalyzer test at school under a new policy unanimously adopted by the full Tiverton School Committee at its meeting Tuesday night.
The policy was first brought forward to the school committee last May by the Tiverton Prevention Coalition and the school administration, said School Committee Chairwoman Sally Black, and has undergone three drafts.
“It’s been thoughtfully considered and was adopted after great review,” she said. “It’s not intended to take anyone’s rights away, but just to make sure that students get to live another day.”
“I believe this policy will be helpful as a deterrent to students. I also believe parents would want to know if their child had been consuming alcohol,” said Superintendent of Schools William Rearick.
The breathalyzer tests, Ms. Black said, will be administered only on probable cause. It will be used, said Mr. Rearick, “only if a student is suspected of having consumer alcohol.” The tests will not be randomly conducted or administered to everyone.
Students will have the “right of refusal,” she said. In the revision process, language was removed from the draft policy — at the request of one parent, Ms. Black said — that would have made it an act of insubordination for student to refuse the test.
Only appropriately trained and certified school officials will administer the test. Currently, Tiverton High School Vice Principal John McKinnon is the only official certified, but Principal Steven Fezette will soon be.
Ms. Black said the tests will be administered in a “private setting,” with a witness present. They will not be conducted, for example, at entrances to school events, she said.
Results of any breathalyzer test administered to a student on school property will be considered a private and confidential school record. “The results will not be given to the police,” said Mr. Rearick.
Ms Black said that currently, and after the test policy goes into effect, students who are considered by school officials to be impaired, or test as such under the new policy, will not be allowed to leave school property, and that someone will have to come to the school to retrieve them.
The new policy (Policy #1177) can be found at the school website here. It was modeled after the breathalyzer policy in effect in Chariho Regional School District, Mr. Rearick said. Barrington and Middletown also have policies in place, he said.