For the first time in the history of the district, Prosper juniors and seniors were required to take a Breathalyzer test before being admitted to prom. In a public statement, the district cited the success of these measures in increasing the safety for students of other schools.
“Districts that have utilized Breathalyzers at voluntary extracurricular events such as prom report an enhancement of student safety, reduction of disciplinary issues at events, and prevention/elimination of students drinking before the prom,” PISD said in its statement.
The district emphasized this requirement is not in response to a specific event. Officials said its the district's belief that this will help increase the safety for all students and minimize disciplinary issues in the future.
The Pipkin family, whose daughter Taylor is a senior at Prosper High School, gave their opinion on the new safety procedure.
“Although this seems generally a little sad that it has come to this, we fully support the district,” Ryan Pipkin, Taylor's father, said. “A safe environment is critical. I am a bit worried that it has gotten to the point where this is necessary. I know that there were a few issues at the Homecoming dance that may be part of the reason as to why the district felt like it was necessary to implement this now.”
He added, however, that he would like to see more transparency and better explanations from the school district for these sort of decisions.
“It would be nice for them to share more information about it,” Pipkin said. “We understand that as the district gets larger there will be growing pains, but if they don't provide a little more information as to why now and is there something to be worried about, people will jump to conclusions. How far will this increase in security go? Will there be an increase in campus police? Metal detectors? It would just be good to have more information.”
“When a district gets bigger so do the problems I guess,” Taylor Pipkin's mother Angela said. “We fully support the district in doing whatever they need to do to keep our children safe. We also think it would be great to Breathalyze everyone, including the chaperones, so that the kids understand that they are not being singled out or belittled.”
There is a tradition for Prosper High School to hold prom at Southfork Ranch in Parker, Texas. The location is nearly 40 minutes from Prosper.
“We would rather there be precautions than an accident,” Angela Pipkin said. “Even though there may be a negative feel to it for some, it's not worth anyone's life. And anyone who doesn't think there are kids drinking is living in a bubble. The other positive thing about this is that it forces parents to talk to their kids about drinking. We talk to our kids a lot, so we know how they feel about subjects like these. Having open communication with our kids is really important.”
Their daughter Taylor Pipkin pointed out that there are more than 1,000 students at Prosper prom. With the juniors, seniors, and a number of young adults bringing dates from outside of Prosper ISD, she agreed safety is a concern.
“In my opinion you don't need to drink in order to have a good time,” Taylor Pipkin said. “I know I'm not going to drink but I can't control what other people do. I don't want to die because of other people's mistakes. I like the fact that this helps provide somewhat of a safety bubble for us. I would like to know a little bit more about why though.”
It is clear that while this family thoroughly supports Prosper ISD, they have unanswered questions. The school district was unavailable for comment beyond their public statement.