Florida teens miss prom after passing Breathalyzer tests

(CNN) — It wasn’t a matter of “all dressed up and no place to go” for a group of Florida high schoolers. Rather, it was more that they were all dressed up and told they couldn’t go — until they took sobriety tests.

Forty students from Jensen Beach High School booked a private charter bus, or party bus, to take them to prom. When they arrived, they were told they couldn’t go inside because a champagne bottle and some cups had been found on the bus, said Michele Blanco, spokesman for the Martin County School District.

“The students had all signed a zero-tolerance policy for prom that said they could be Breathalyzed if there was reasonable suspicion,” Blanco said.

Jensen Beach High School senior Cassidy Bass poses with friends before prom on May 3, 2014. Bass and 39 others were tested for alcohol before their prom. The process took so long that the students ended up missing the whole dance.

Jensen Beach High School senior Cassidy Bass poses with friends before prom on May 3, 2014. Bass and 39 others were tested for alcohol before their prom. The process took so long that the students ended up missing the whole dance.

So the students lined up for their sobriety tests. Each of the 40 students tested negative, Blanco said. But by the time the tests were completed, it was too late to go inside, the students say.

Admittedly, they were running late for the event, which kicked off at 8 p.m. Prom finished at midnight, Blanco said.

There’s debate between the school and students on how long the procedure took, but at least one student says they arrived around 10:30 p.m. and were finished with the Breathalyzers by about 11:45 — roughly in line with the school’s timeline of events.

“When we pulled up, it was 10:30. By the time they got the Breathalyzers, it was 11. I got done at 11:47,” student Kaelyn Drazkowski, 18, told CNN affiliate WPTV.

Drazkowski further said it was disappointing that school officials didn’t even apologize. Her mother concurred, saying the students worked hard to graduate, paid a lot of money to attend prom and the school “made them feel like criminals.”

Lyn Drazkowski said she condones the school’s policy and process, but the champagne bottle was dry, shoved behind a booth on the bus. As their classmates were entering and exiting prom, they passed by Kaelyn Drazkowski and her pals, which was humiliating for the group.

“My daughter comes home and cries herself to sleep,” Lyn Drazkowski told CNN. “It’s a night that she’ll never get back.”

Student Cassidy Bass told WPTV that they pleaded with school officials to no avail.

“We said, ‘It’s not ours.’ Every single person would vouch and say, ‘It’s not mine.’ And they just didn’t believe us,” she said.

Her father told CNN he has no problem with the school’s zero-tolerance policy, but he feels school officials went overboard. These are good kids, he said.

“(The students) knew they could be Breathalyzed and purses searched. They knew a school resource officer would go on the bus. They knew it in advance. Why would they spend money to go on the bus and risk it all for one empty bottle?” Doug Bass asked.

Students told WPTV that some of the bus’s occupants were disciplined for using foul language and complaining about tests and about missing the prom.

School officials had the Breathalyzers on hand, which Blanco called “unfortunate, but it’s necessary to ensure the safety” of the 600 students who attended prom. She said if the champagne bottle was left on the bus by one of the charter company’s previous clients, that should be addressed with the bus company.

“Safety is priority. We understand that parents invested money. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but safety will always come first,” Blanco said.

Doug Bass said the problem isn’t that school officials tested the students; it’s that they barred them from entering the prom even after it became clear the kids weren’t drinking.

“When they start testing them, and no one is showing they have any alcohol in their system, that’s a bit much,” he said. “You only get one senior prom — and 40 of those kids didn’t.”

Added parent Elliot Ziegler in a WPTV interview: “They are never going to have it. You can’t re-create it.”

CNN’s Suzanne Presto and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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9 comments

  • Just a Parent

    Is it really that big a deal? It really is just a dressier dance. And these kids weren’t all that interested in getting there until it was practically 2/3 over. Get over it!
    In these days of entitlement, it probably was good for them to abide by the stated policies. Anyway, if there parents let them define this as such a huge harm and ordeal, they will be ill prepared for real life.
    But news headline worthy? Not really.
    Mountains out of molehills.

      • Denver George Land

        Clearly, you and Miss Just a Parent were too drunk to go to your prom. You only get ONE senior prom (okay, maybe two, if you have to re-do the 12th grade.) It’s something that no student should be denied, if they haven’t done anything wrong. Hell, it’s one of 2 times in my life that I’ve put on a tuxedo (the other being my JUNIOR Prom!)

        These Nazis… erm… school administrators, could have used a little common sense, just as any self respecting police officer would have. With my experience in law enforcement, the course of action would have been quite simple. Step one: question them. Not to see what their answers are, but to see if any are slow to respond, or have slurred speech, or any other signs of impairment. Step two: While questioning them, see if any of them smell of alcohol. Step three: Use the Portable Breath Tester on 3 or 4 of them, at random. If they all blow less than .005 (the amount of alcohol that would be on your breath if you had used Listerine in the last hour,) and no one appears to be getting nervous or antsy, let them go enjoy their evening. The whole thing could have been resolved for all 40 students in less than 30 minutes.

        The point is, their once in a lifetime evening was destroyed by a group of power hungry adults who didn’t care enough to use common sense. That, in a nutshell, is the public school system’s modus operandi… and our tax dollars pay them to do it.

  • It IS a big deal!

    Schools are starting to use “Zero Tolerance” policies to replace common sense and good judgement.

    • Rob

      This isn’t really about zero tolerance, it’s more about personal responsibility. If the Prom was important to them, they wouldn’t have showed up at 1030pm, they would’ve been there at 8pm. And, knowing they had signed a zero tolerance letter, they should’ve checked the bus themselves, knowing someone else was going to.

      • mama G

        My guess is that after hair appointments, dinner reservations, and meeting up at 40 plus or minus possible locations probably took a while. Also, they were all thinking about having a good time and not thinking about someone else’s trash getting them in trouble.

        That being said, I’m surprised all 40 kids passed. That’s awesome.

      • Eryck Lamagna

        Yes because as a kid I’m sure your 1st thought would have been “Hey lets check the bus for something we didn’t bring that could get us in trouble!” I’m guessing no one said “yes” when you asked them to Prom, if you even had enough courage to ask. What an A-Hole!

  • john black

    Who gave them permission to search the bus? The kids rented the bus so how would it have been unsafe if they drank other than being underage or fighting. Did they give test or search kids who drove their own cars? Bunch of control freaks….get a life and let young people live theirs…

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