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Minn. High School Requires Entire Senior Class to Take Breathalyzer Before Graduating


"It has nothing to do with the kids drinking or any of that. It has to do with the constitution."

Alec Welp and 73 of his classmates gathered for their high school graduation rehearsal in St. Charles, Minn. on Friday to prepare for their greatest academic achievement to date.

But before they could practice walking across that stage and imagine receiving that coveted diploma, their excitement was crushed after Alec and his classmates were forced to take a breathalyzer test by St. Charles High School administrators.

Now some parents are considering suing the school system for what they see as a violation of their children's rights.

Jim Welp, Alec's father, told WCCO-TV in Minnesota he was shocked when his son informed him on Friday morning that he would be given a breathalyzer at school. He argued that students are entitled to all the protections granted under the U.S. Constitution and school officials didn't respect that.

“When he said that right away I knew, they can’t do that,” Welp said. "It has nothing to do with the kids drinking or any of that. It has to do with the constitution."

His son tested negative for alcohol.

WCCO has more on the story:

Welp immediately drove to the school to question administrators about their authority to administer breathalyzers.

“They said they did, I said you don’t, I said you have to have probable cause,” he said.

Faculty told Welp and other parents they had smelled alcohol on some of the students.

“I said you can’t test them all because some of the students have alcohol,” he said.

Superintendent Mark Roubinek says teachers told the principal they observed unusual behavior by a group of 20 or more students.

He says administration feared several of those students would be driving after rehearsal was over.

“It was a bad situation, it would’ve been a terrible situation if some kids would’ve gotten hurt or killed,” said Roubinek.

NBC affiliate KTTC-TV reports that students said they felt "forced" into the situation and were told they would not be able to participate in the commencement ceremony if they refused to take a breathalyzer. Students were not read their rights.

"It felt like we had to go along with it," Carter Swenson told KTTC. "I've been told that if you're 18 you can reject the breathalyzer, and we're all 18, so I had no idea you can do that, so I went in there and took it, but I felt like it was forced."

Officers from Olmsted County, the Department of Natural Resources and the state patrol all responded to the situation and were present at the high school, according to the station.

School policy states when kids appear intoxicated on school property, the police are called. But Roubinek told WCCO that they decided to "move on to the next stage" – testing the entire graduating class.

Students admitted that there was a party held the previous night in which alcohol was present and the school's suspicions were confirmed after a number of students tested positive for alcohol. Officials didn't release an exact number but they said it was in the double digits.

But that has seemingly done little to satisfy parents as several of them are planning to attend the school board's meeting on June 11 to express their dissatisfaction with the school's handling of the situation.

"As parents in St. Charles, we just want to make sure that people do realize that we do not condone underage drinking, and the kids that were drinking were wrong," mother Jean Johnston told KTTC, "but we also do not agree with the situation that occurred here today."

WCCO reports that the graduation was Sunday and all students walked – including those who tested positive. Those students did receive some form of punishment, Roubinek said.

Attempts by The Blaze to contact officials at St. Charles High School were unsuccessful.

Watch more from KTTC's report and some comments from students here:

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