It’s prom season and legal issues involving high school proms are in the news. A group of students from Jensen Beach High School have filed a lawsuit against the Martin County School District for barring them from entering the prom until they were tested for alcohol. Because of the length of time that the testing took, none of the students involved made it into the prom.
The students involved had rented a bus to attend the prom. When they arrived at the prom, school officials found an empty Champagne bottle on the bus and required each of the thirty-eight students to undergo alcohol testing before any of the students could enter the prom. Since the school resource officer only had two blood-alcohol tests left, students had to wait until more tests could be retrieved. The entire process lasted more than an hour and a half, and by the time the students were cleared – all of the students tested with a 0.00 blood-alcohol level – it was close to midnight and the prom was over.
The students’ lawsuit claims that their rights were violated by school officials. Specifically, they allege that there was no evidence indicating the need for a search or blood-alcohol test, even though the students had signed a zero-tolerance agreement, which stated that students could be subject to a blood-alcohol test. The lawsuit contains five counts, also claiming a violation of the Fourth amendment for an unconstitutional search of the bus, that the Martin County School District’s breath testing policy is unconstitutional, and the testing, as applied, was unconstitutional.
Given that testing for alcohol consumption at proms and school dances is a widespread practice with schools, school officials will be watching the outcome of this lawsuit with great interest.