ARGYLE - School officials are considering administering breath tests on students at next spring's prom, hoping to deter them from arriving drunk.
"What we're trying to do here is prevent students from arriving at prom after [they] have been drinking," Superintendent Telena Wright said.
Argyle High School Principal Jeff Butts told the school board Monday that staff members trained in using the breath-test devices and security officers would be stationed at two entrances at the prom location, which has not yet been determined. The staff members would administer a passive test by having students breathe in the direction of a sensor as they enter. Within 5 seconds, those devices can sense any alcohol in the air.
Students who test positive for alcohol on the passive test would be pulled to the side, Butts said, to receive a more sophisticated "deep-lung breath" test that would rule out any false positives, such as mouthwash, and positively identify students under the influence of alcohol.
Administrators are considering the tests as a response to an incident they learned about in which some students arrived at last spring's prom intoxicated.
They did not discuss the incident in detail.
"I don't want anyone to think all of our kids are bad, but last year's prom was a real eye-opener to me," Butts said.
If students are drinking alcohol, they don't need to be at prom and they don't need to be at a school function, he said.
Students who test positive on the second test will be turned over to the security officers, their parents will be contacted and the student will face placement in the district's Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, Butts said.
"There's going to be as many consequences as I can conjure up for this," he told board members.
On Tuesday, Butts said he believes students will make wise choices and that it won't be an issue.
"This is just something we feel is important to our kids to be a deterrent," he said. "I want it to be a smooth transition that doesn't interfere with their night. I just want it to go off on a positive note."
Board member Brenda Alexander suggested that Butts also prepare a written policy to be distributed to parents and students prior to prom about the consequences for students found intoxicated at the event.
Randy McKellar, board president, suggested a supplement in addition to the rules, similar to a written pledge, in which students make the decision to not arrive at the prom intoxicated.
Butts said that before the issue comes back to the school board, he intends to do more research and make contact with other high schools that have administered similar tests so that he could gauge pros and cons for possible testing in Argyle.
At some point, Butts said, he suspects the issue will be brought back before the school board for a vote.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .