April 18, 2011
The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — This year, when students enter the Saratoga Springs High School prom, each will have to submit to an alcohol screening to prove they have not been drinking prior to arriving at the dance.

The new policy comes on the heels of an incident at a high school dance March 4 in which two students were hospitalized and 21 were disciplined after underage drinking at the dance. Following the incident, the school convened a group of faculty, staff, parents and school administrators to establish guidelines to help ensure future school dances would be alcohol-free.

Parents of SSHS students received a letter in the mail Saturday outlining the new policies. The letter, signed by SSHS Principal Brett Miller, says the school also will establish a supervised coat and bag check area and prohibit any type of bottles from being brought into school dances.

Beginning at the 2011 junior/senior prom, which is set for 7 p.m. May 14 at the Saratoga Springs City Center, “chaperones will use passive alcohol sensors prior to and/or during dances to more accurately determine whether or not a student has consumed alcohol,” the letter states. Students who trigger the alcohol sensor will be taken to a private location to speak with chaperones about whether they have been drinking. “If it is determined that the student has been drinking, parents will be called and disciplinary consequences will follow in accordance with the district code of conduct.”

The school district is on its spring break this week, and Principal Miller and Superintendent Janice White were not immediately available for comment. However, after the March 4 incident, the school district sent out a press release in which White condemned the students’ behavior, saying underage drinking “is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated. Our schools and all school activities are expected to be safe places for students, staff and the entire community.”

In this weekend’s letter, Miller said SSHS intends to continue hosting dances for students, and by implementing the new policies, “we can better ensure a healthy environment for all who attend Saratoga Springs High School.”