Perham prom "breathalyzer" plan sparks controversy

Categories: Law
promFEAT.jpg
"By requiring breathalyzer tests, the District would be teaching the students the wrong civics lesson: that they can't expect to have their bodily integrity and privacy respected, even if they are innocent of any wrongdoing," ACLU-MN Executive Director Chuck Samuelson writes.
Yesterday, the ACLU-MN sent letters to Perham Public Schools Superintendent Mitch Anderson and Perham Police Chief Jason Hoaby demanding they reconsider a plan to administer breathalyzer tests to all students attending this week's prom (read the letters here and here, respectively).

The ACLU argues the plan violates students' Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. ACLU Legal Director Teresa Nelson told us a lawsuit against the northwestern Minnesota school district was a possibility if a student came forward as a plaintiff.

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"I think it's clear that it's unconstitutional or likely unconstitutional and not really the best way to address underage drinking in my opinion," Nelson told us.

But a short time later, we spoke with Superintendent Anderson. He says that while blanket breathalyzers was the initial prom plan, that approach was scrapped in favor of a less legally problematic path some time ago.

"Really the bottom line is we had a prom committee that has been working on planning for prom this weekend along with the high school principal," Anderson said. "When they talked about providing the safest environment for the night, they talked about having a preliminary breathalyzer test, but it's different than what the ACLU is putting in their letter."

When prom-goers enter the Cactus -- the Perham bowling alley/bar/event space where the dance is happening -- the "preliminary breathalyzer test" will "measure the air around them." If the test indicates a student has been drinking, they'll then be subjected to a standard breathalyzer administered by a cop.

Anderson says we'd have to talk to the Perham PD to learn the specifics about the device, which he envisions as looking similar to an airport metal detector.

"We talked to the school attorney and others, and we feel like the ACLU is correct in pointing out we need to have reasonable suspicion [to breathalyze]," Anderson says. "It hasn't been a huge issue in the past and it's not a sword we're willing to die on, but the principal said other districts are doing this around the state... I think every district throughout the state tries to be proactive, safe, and provide the best environment for the night."

Anderson points out that the prom dance is being held a short distance away from where the grand march is taking place earlier in the evening.

"When you're going from one location to another there's always a risk there," he says. "We're trying to put together the best plan to prevent issues at prom."

Though the district decided to change plans, Anderson says some officials he's been in touch with are still supportive of the original blanket breathalyzer approach.

(For more, click to page two.)


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74 comments
k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

I really don't see the problem here. Any kid that would show up drunk to a school event that he/she knows that there will be a breathalyzer should probably save the time and $ and not mail in those college applications. 


Kirk LaSota
Kirk LaSota

Yes, and after. They're all underage.

robowolftron
robowolftron

So much thoughtful discussion going on down here. Too many experts, I guess there's not much left to say...

Lori Mocha
Lori Mocha

Then they'll just get drunk at their after parties.

Steven Harty
Steven Harty

No. drug test the teachers and the police and look at all their browser history search the teachers and all the police homes in search of anything suspicious. just to be safe...

Georgia Lauritzen
Georgia Lauritzen

Ohfergodssake! Answer is a resounding no. Breathalyze them all but don't take their guns. What has happened to sense in this country.

Karel Schaap
Karel Schaap

Definitely while dancing away from the Prom afterwards I'd say. :)

Crystal Erickson
Crystal Erickson

remember, adults: kids don't have rights. and if they did, they probably wouldn't be living with their parents or going to school. and this isn't worse than putting tracking devices on children or at-home drug testing them. (things parents do to their own children because they want to. )

Chad Liljegren
Chad Liljegren

This is so dumb. How can anyone support a police state. O ya liberals do cause they are socialists. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

Chris Peden
Chris Peden

That's the best part of prom. Get messed up and get laid. Why else would you go to prom? It would suck ass to be a kid now days!

Dave Kjellberg
Dave Kjellberg

Welcome to the No Fun World. Thanks libtards. Glad I grew up in a better time.

Hanni Kenny
Hanni Kenny

Everyone should be fucked up at prom. It's prom.

Alex Stone
Alex Stone

You can't possibly expect them to teach sober. Have you MET a high school aged kid recently!?

Alex Stone
Alex Stone

Kids are doing crystal meth and banging each other before they hit grade school. And this isn't exactly new; most schools have cops with breathalyzers at school dances. They just do "random" tests; usually of the poorer kids.

Cal NotPorn McCaskill
Cal NotPorn McCaskill

Police state bullshit. Because someone could do something wrong doesn't mean that everyone should have to suffer.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

Public Schools = Government Schools.  Our government is all about control.

These schools are nothing more than a PC brainwash academy.   Implemented by NEA members, who haven't held a real world job, and are 'in' it for the generous pension package.

That's why we home schooled.

Greta von Otto
Greta von Otto

No, I think behavior is a better indication. Some kids might be on drugs and that wouldn't show on a breathalyzer. Even kids should be judged innocent until acting guilty. (and, it is Perham)

Brent Colquhoun
Brent Colquhoun

Guess it's no surprise, and I'm not shocked in any way that this would happen at this school or any other for that matter.

Jackie Dols Pavek
Jackie Dols Pavek

Seriously?? When did it come to us EXPECTING kids to do wrong?? EXPECT them to do the right thing and don't judge them automatically! Sheesh!!!

Adam Epps
Adam Epps

Wouldn't it make more sense to have it on the way out of prom?

Dan Lemke
Dan Lemke

Prom is a messed up thing that needs to end. Horrible tradition

Sarah Davis Anderson
Sarah Davis Anderson

Yes. And they should pee in a cup every day before school. And they should give blood for analyzing at lunch. During the basketball games, they should sit quietly and think about how awful they are. At graduation, they need to get finger printed and pee double for 2 different tests. DNA swabs each Monday after the weekends. Their parents should also not be responsible for any of their behavior.

Dustin Pettee
Dustin Pettee

This is far from news, they did this at Stillwater 2003.

Molly Gunnon Wingo
Molly Gunnon Wingo

If they are driving and appear impaired, the chaperones have every right to keep the kids save. (if they have a driver-limo/parents then no)

Vincent Hopwood
Vincent Hopwood

Since schools are now being held liable for students who injure themselves or others after attending school events intoxicated, they're perfectly within their rights to enforce this. Besides, I have a prom-age daughter attending high school here in Minneapolis. I trust her completely, but that trust does not extend to her fellow classmates. Blowing in a breathalyzer is a small price to pay to help insure her safety at this and other school-related events and activities.

Curtis Meyer
Curtis Meyer

I think kids should study more and prom less. Prom is a distraction.

Nathan David Teegarden
Nathan David Teegarden

I think this sends a clear message to teens: don't drink alcohol before prom. Smoke weed instead.

Curt W. Schneider
Curt W. Schneider

Searching lockers and cars is a lot different from breathalyzing someone. Why don't they drug test them all, too, while they are at it? People with your type of viewpoint are the reason why our freedoms and privacy are disappearing slowly but surely.

Michael Ives
Michael Ives

Most music venues reserve the right to search you. By you purchasing a ticket you usually waive your rights.

Angela Robinson
Angela Robinson

I think it would encourage the kids who don't want to be sober to take other drugs like ecstacy instead. More importantly it is invasive and it's an unreasonable search. It doesn't allow the kids to make their own choices (good or bad) and live with the consequences like we do in the real world.

Troy Bandel
Troy Bandel

Funniest part is most kids sneak it in anyways

henk.tobias0
henk.tobias0

Yes you can bet your bottom dollar the Perham Police Chief is a "libtard." Most cops are now days, right genius?

SidVicious
SidVicious

@Truth_Teller_1 Paint with an overly broad brush much? I feel sorry for your children.

SidVicious
SidVicious

Writes the guy who couldn't get a prom date.

SidVicious
SidVicious

Writes someone who can't get a date for the prom.

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