COLUMBIA - Sobriety testing will be conducted at Columbia high school proms this year.
CPS Spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said, "In the interest of safety for all students, breathalyzers will be on premises for all three high school proms. Rock Bridge High School will conduct tests on all students attending the event. Hickman and Battle high schools will use the test as necessary."
Rock Bridge, Battle, Douglass and Hickman high school administrators decided to include the sobriety checkpoint at each of their events this year.
Rock Bridge Principal Jennifer Rukstad said, “The students actually suggested that breathalyzers might make a difference.”
At Rock Bridge, all students who enter the prom venue will be tested.
“Our homecoming dance had a few students who came under the influence, enough that it was noticeable, and many of the adults here, some administrators and teachers met with our student council and other students after the dance. We all agreed that there had been a problem,” Rukstad said.
At Hickman, Douglass and Battle, administrators are planning to have testing supplies on site but will only test students with their parents’ consent.
If they suspect someone is under the influence of alcohol, administrators will call their parents for permission to administer the test. The test will be conducted by an administrator at all schools.
“What we really want is for our students to have an event that is safe, to be able to have an event that they’re proud of and for it to be a deterrent to students who might be considering making a poor choice,” Baumstark said.
"The cost is relatively minimal since it's not being administered by law enforcement," Baumstark said. She also said Rock Bridge is covering the cost for the four breathalyzers and packages of disposable mouth pieces that will be shared by all of the high schools.
“We’re intending that not one student will have problems because by the time our prom gets here on April 28th, I can’t imagine that any of them won’t know this will be the procedure at Rock Bridge’s prom,” Rukstad said.
According to Responsibility.org, 33 percent of 12th grade students reported drinking in 2017, but this is significantly less than the 54 percent reported in 1991.
You can find the entire meeting here. The discussion about prom sobriety testing starts at 37:10 minute mark.