KIRKLAND, Wash. -- The principal of Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Wash., has backed off plans to have every student at this year's senior prom tested for alcohol.
In an email to parents Wednesday, Principal Christina Thomas said students will be tested for alcohol consumption at school events only "if there is a reasonable suspicion that the student is under the influence of alcohol."
That had been the school's policy in the past, but earlier this week, a district spokeswoman said Thomas, in her first year as principal, wanted "more of a deterrence" against alcohol use and had informed students that everyone attending the prom would be tested.
The proposal to test all students at the June 4 event at the Bellevue Hilton was developed because "at every dance this year, there have been issues with students drinking," Kathryn Reith, spokeswoman for the Lake Washington School District, said Monday.
The school's intention to test everyone at the event, reported in Tuesday's Seattle Times, drew criticism from a spokesman for the ACLU of Washington and from at least one Lake Washington parent, Kellie Nicholson.
Even though her daughter is a junior and not attending the prom, Nicholson said testing everyone there would set "a horrible precedent ... making them all seem guilty unless they proved they were innocent."
She called the school to voice her objections and was scheduled to meet with the principal Friday.
On Wednesday, Nicholson said she was relieved to hear of the change in the principal's plans and has no objection to testing students who show signs of alcohol use.
Thomas' email referred to the "recent media attention" about the issue and said the revised plan -- to test only students who appear to be using alcohol or drugs -- was made "after thorough research and consultation with district staff and attorneys."
According to the principal's email, if there is "a reasonable suspicion that the student is under the influence of alcohol, the use of a passive alcohol sensor will help to gather further information about possible alcohol consumption."
Those who are found to be using or possessing alcohol or drugs will be referred to the school resource officer for disciplinary action, the email said.
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