September 07, 2017
A New Jersey high school is sticking by its decision to send dozens of students to an immediate substance screening after administrators spotted containers of alcohol before the start of a recent football game.
The alcohol was brought to the attention of school administrators at Randolph High School in Morris County when an open container of beer was either thrown or fell "in front of the school personnel assigned to monitor this section of the bleachers" during Friday night's event, Superintendent Jennifer Fano said in a letter on the school's website.
The single open container led to officials finding several more. When school officials could not determine which students in the section had consumed the alcohol and no one confessed, all those who were sitting in the section were brought into the school's classrooms and instructed to get in contact with their parents to have their urine and blood screened for drugs and alcohol, a requirement under the district's policy, according to the letter.
About 75 students were held, according to the Daily Record, and they were required to get screened within two hours or otherwise face five days suspension. Less than five tested positive, according to the publication. Students who tested negative are set for reimbursement, Fano said.
"Everybody was just so confused, miscommunication," Stephanie Pangaro, a parent of a student who underwent testing, told NBC4. "As a parent, you're going to defend your child to the fullest when you know they're innocent."
The school stood by its decision in a follow-up letter released Wednesday. Fano said she would "rather be criticized for what [the school] did, than what [it] did not do that evening."
Fano did issue an apology "to those well-behaved and respectful students" who followed guidelines but "were subjected to the disturbance and inconvenience" of a screening.
"Teenage drug and alcohol abuse is a national epidemic and Randolph is certainly not exempt from the problem," she said in the letter. "I am hopeful that Friday’s events will serve as an important learning experience for all of us – students, parents, teachers and administrators alike. I am also hopeful that what transpired on Friday evening was an anomaly in what is an otherwise outstanding school district."