breathalyzerIn Morris County, NJ, the School District of the Chatham has recently unveiled a breathalyzer policy that would permit them to test students randomly at many school sponsored events for alcohol and drug use. This is an update of their 2008 policy which would allow the school to screen every student at an event, a policy that has never been implemented in the seven years it’s been in place.

As indicated in a statement by Michael LaSusa, the district superintendent, there have been multiple incidents in the past several years that spurred the school board to push for the policy revision. Students have had to receive emergency medical treatment at school-sponsored events, and he hopes that this revised policy will assist in combating underage drinking among the student population.

The school district does not yet possesses the breathalyzers or other devices necessary to screen the student population, which is in large part why the 2008 policy was never implemented. While the new policy is effective immediately, they won’t be able to begin screening students until they do purchase these alcohol and drug screening devices.

The full text of the policy can be found on the school’s website, and allows for staff members at the school to screen students on a completely randomized basis, or on a pre-selected interval—such as one in every five students showing up for a dance. Specified events in the policy include dances and proms, class trips, sports games, school shows and plays, graduation, and other assemblies. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and makes room for the school principal or designated official to use their own judgement of the situation to determine if they believe students have been using alcohol or drugs, or are otherwise intoxicated.

An additional current policy does allow students be tested, but with the requirement of an outside physician to be present and the testing taking place not on school property. The new policy is the districts’ way to curb underage drinking, as many schools have been trying to do with mixed results over the years.  The School District of the Chathams has instituted this new policy using relatively broad language, which can be cause for alarm with some parents in regards to student privacy.

While this policy takes place in Morris County, it’s very possible that other school districts in New Jersey will follow the Chatham example and implement similar policies to screen their students for use of alcohol or drugs. If your child needs legal assistance, I handle juvenile cases in Middlesex and Somerset Counties and have over 27 years of expert experience of providing my clients with personal and expert attention. Call the office of David C. Barry, Esquire today to learn more about your legal options in cases of underage alcohol and drug abuse, as well as to understand your rights as a member of the school district. I can be reached at 732-238-8686 for a free phone consultation and look forward to speaking with you soon.