Bexley schools still debating breathalyzers

The Bexley City Schools Board of Education continued to tweak an alcohol detection device policy that would allow school officials to administer breathalyzer tests on suspected students with parents’ permission.

Since February, the board has debated the language of a policy intended to maintain a substance-free environment.

Board Vice-President Andrew Sutter, at the board’s July 14 meeting, said the policy is remains ambiguous.

"I still think it renders the provision vague in which situation the school official will ask for parental permission," said Sutter. "I don’t think it was the intent in drafting that a student be required to take a breathalyzer to get into the prom that a parent could decline and the student could still enter."

Superintendent Michael Johnson stated there are several situations in which a breathalyzer could be administered: during the school day, at dances, and at football games.        

"On more than one occasion, there have been students struggling to maintain their balance and claim to not be intoxicated (at football games)," alleged Johnson.

Board members agreed that the grounds for administering a breathalyzer test would be unavoidably subjective, but necessary.

"The breathalyzer will be another mechanical instrument to confirm suspicions," said Sutter. "We still want to empower our administrators."

In the past two years, breathalyzers have been administered before the Bexley High School prom, with prior notification, but no formal policy has ever been enacted, according to Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Anne Hyland.

"We thought it would be a good idea to put (a policy) in place," she said.

The board tabled the policy to make suggested revisions until its Aug. 18 meeting.

Other Bexley school news

•The board continues to search for a new athletic director among seven applicants chosen from a field of over 35, according to Johnson.

"The applications are impressive and the credentials are higher than they have been in the past," said Johnson, who hopes to have an athletic director chosen by the end of July and hired before the school year begins.

The only road block in the process comes from previous contracts held by candidates.

According to Johnson, the candidate wouldn’t receive a notice of hiring until after the board approves the recommendation, then the candidate would most likely be required to give two weeks notice before officially assuming the position. That could be after the school year starts.

•The district is on track in terms of its five-year budget, despite economic challenges, according to Treasurer Christopher Essman, who said that falling interest rates have already been factored into the plan.

•Council President Diane Peterson mentioned that the district is working toward placing a levy on the ballot in 2010.  

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