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Nyack School Board Nixes Breathalyzer Proposal

Health officials said students at Nyack Middle School and Liberty Elementary School were exposed to a person with tuberculosis.
Health officials said students at Nyack Middle School and Liberty Elementary School were exposed to a person with tuberculosis. Photo Credit: Nyack Public Schools

NYACK, N.Y. -- Opponents of the breathalzyer policy for the Nyack School District are breathing easier since the board on Tuesday voted down the controversial policy that has been the subject of nearly a half-dozen readings over several months.

"It was an extensive process, and in the end, the close vote shows that the board was struggling over the right decision," said Schools Superintendent James Montesano.

The proposal was voted down 4 to 3. Those who voted in favor of the proposal were Board President Karen Hughes, James Marshall and Daniel Juechter. The rest were opposed.

The district’s testing policy had proposed students would be tested when there is reasonable suspicion a student, or a student’s guest at an event, is under the influence of alcohol. Several parents took issue with the criteria.

The list included red, watery, glassy or bloodshot eyes, being inordinately jovial while talking, odor of alcohol on breath, slurred speech, impaired motor skills, and other behaviors.

Suspected students would be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the student tests positive, a second test will be given ten minutes later. If a second test is positive, district officials will call the student’s parents and ask them to collect their child. A student who admits to, or tests positive, will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include suspension.

Over the course of many hearings, the board received opposition from parents and students.

"We were able to listen to a number of voices," he said. "We know that underage drinking plagues youth. The question was whether or not this policy would have strengthened intervention."

While the breathalyzer policy has been ditched, the superintendent did say the community offered up valuable advice. "We need to have more programs on education and awareness, not only on drinking, but for all substance abuse."

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