Parents of students at a New Jersey high school were ordered to get their children’s blood and urine tested after a can of beer was discovered at a football game.
The can of beer reportedly landed on the ground and was spotted by a school official during a game at Randolph High School on Friday night.
It’s unclear if the can was thrown or fell, but it came from bleachers filled with students, according to a letter from Randolph Superintendent Jennifer Fano, who said some of the students appeared drunk and that several additional opened containers of alcohol were later discovered.
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After the can of beer was found, about 75 students who were in the bleachers were taken to classrooms as school officials contacted parents so they could pick them up. Each student was given a form — a rule-out test — requiring blood and urine samples.
Parents were given two hours to get to health facilities in Morristown, Dover and Denville so their children could be screened. The students faced suspension from school if they didn’t complete the screening.
"District policy and regulation states that failure to comply with a screening is deemed a positive test result and will result in a suspension from school," the letter from Fano read.
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Some parents were outraged by the incident. In the end, fewer than five students tested positive for alcohol, according to DailyRecord.com.
"Everybody was just so confused, miscommunication," said parent Stephanie Pangaro. "As a parent, you're going to defend your child to the fullest when you know they're innocent."
If a student tested positive for alcohol, his or her parents had to pay for the test, while negative tests were covered by the board of education, according to district policy, NJ.com reported.
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Pangaro said she was on the defensive when she was first told to get her son tested for alcohol, but that she now has more sympathy for school officials.
"A few days have passed, and you sit back and you look at the whole picture," she said. "It wasn't handled correctly, but I think the intentions were good at the time, and it was really to protect everybody."
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Superintendent Fano released a follow-up letter Wednesday, in which she apologized to the parents and kids who were inconvenienced by going to the emergency rooms for screenings. But she said she stands by the decision of staff to carry out the procedure at the game.
Fano also said social media video later surfaced showing kids drinking at pregame parties, a video that has since been turned over to police.
"Teenage drug and alcohol abuse is a national epidemic and Randolph is certainly not exempt from the problem. I am hopeful that Friday’s events will serve as an important learning experience for all of us," she said in the letter.