Thursday, October 10, 2002

Cape student suspended for coming to dance drunk

Published in the Current

One Cape Elizabeth High School student has been suspended after coming to the school’s Homecoming Dance drunk and getting sick, according to Principal Jeff Shedd. The administration is also looking into the possibility that the student was not alone.

“There are unconfirmed reports of others,” Shedd said.

Junior Hillary Weimont and senior Aaron McKenney expressed concern about the incident and the administration’s reaction at the regular School
Board meeting Tuesday, where the two are representatives of the high school student body.

McKenney said he was worried that disciplinary action would be too sweeping. “I don’t think we should all suffer because of some kids,” he told the board.

McKenney said the school was looking at having more chaperones at future dances, including possibly coaches, who might be expected to be more aware of members of their teams.

Shedd told the board they had enough chaperones by “old standards,” but the events at the dance showed “we need to have even more.”

In the past, he said, six chaperones for a dance were believed to be enough, but now he is looking at doubling that number, he told the Current.

He said he was considering asking coaches to chaperone dances “because they know the kids in a different way.” Partly because of the coach-athlete relationship and partly because of school policies of athletic suspension for intoxication, Shedd said, “it would be a very strong deterrent.”

Shedd said other schools have problems with alcohol use, too, but in Cape the problem is student efforts to hide their drinking. “The degree of brazenness and the degree of sophistication that our kids bring to disguising their drinking is startling,” Shedd told the board.

He told the Current that he was at the door much of the night, checking students for signs of drunkenness when they arrived. “There was a strong smell of breath mint and gum” when some students entered, he said, but none of those students showed signs of intoxication.

“I was at the door … and I couldn’t tell,” he said.

The student, who was found out when he got sick, was suspended for two days, in keeping with the district’s policy on first offenses for intoxication on school grounds. Subsequent offenses bring longer suspensions.

Board members did not make comments following either report, with the exception of Elaine Moloney, who thanked Shedd for his efforts to involve parents and teachers in Homecoming activities.

Superintendent Tom Forcella said the students were disciplined in keeping with the policies in the student handbook, which include suspension from school and from athletic teams.

The student in question was not a member of any athletic team, Shedd said.

Shedd said he is concerned for the safety of all students. He also said he will take what action is necessary to prevent this from recurring. “The result will be a tightening up,” he said.