The Lake Washington School District has backed away from its earlier decision to test all students before they can enter the prom on June 4, telling parents this morning that only those students suspected of drinking will be tested.
The district also said Wednesday the decision would change the policy at , where all students have been tested for alcohol consumption before dances and school games for the past five years. The RHS prom took place last Saturday, but district spokeswoman Kathryn Reith said the new policy would be in effect from this point forward at school events.
“Redmond High will also be looking at complying with the legal review we had, so they will be testing (only) on suspicion as well,” she said.
RHS Principal Jane Todd was out of the office Wednesday and referred an emailed request for comment back to Reith.
District lawyers reviewed the policy after controversy erupted Tuesday over news that Lake Washington High would be testing all students before the prom in Bellevue early next month, Reith said.
Lake Washington principal Christina Thomas announced the change in an email to parents Wednesday morning. In the email, she said, “At school events, alcohol screening of individual students will only occur if there is a reasonable suspicion that the student is under the influence of alcohol.”
Earlier this week the principal had sent an email to parents saying that because of drinking issues at dances earlier this school year, the school would require all students be tested with a passive sensor before being allowed to attend the prom.
That prompted expressions of concern not only by some parents and students, but also by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which questioned the constitutionality of the practice.
ACLU spokesperson Doug Honig commended the district for its change of mind.
The ACLU is very pleased,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “We had a productive conversation yesterday with the district administration. Clearly they took another look at the issue and recognized they needed a policy that didn’t violate the constitution of the State of Washington.
“They correctly recognized that you have to have individual suspicion that a student has done something wrong in order to test them. That’s a good civic lesson.”
The Lake Washington prom is at the Bellevue Hilton hotel on June 4.