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"Catch and release," high-school style

As winter's icy grip fades, we begin to see the first signs of spring. The geese return. The days grow longer. The temperatures rise (with occasional oddball days like today). And drunken high schoolers show up to dances.

When 15-20 students showed up (out of 450) at the annual Luau Dance in Belmont, Massachusetts, officials acted quickly. They carefully evaluated the situation, and calculated the absolutely worst way they could handle the situation. And in the time-honored traditions of public education, that's exactly what they did.

1) Overreact. They shut down the dance and called for ambulances. 14 ambulances. After fighting over the 6 drunken teenagers who could plausibly be taken to the hospital for intoxication, the other eight went back to their station.

2) Give the offenders a slap on the wrist. Monday morning, Belmont school officials gave twelve of the now-sober louts their punishment. For showing up at the dance intoxicated, in violation of several state laws, they decided to send a strong message. All the miscreants were given a one-day suspension.

3) Punish all the other students as well, so the offenders don't feel picked on. School officials over in Westwood decided they would learn a lesson from Belmont's problem. From now on, all students attending dances in Westwood will have to blow into breathalyzers ($300-$500 each).

I suppose the next step is to start a college fund for one of the offenders after they "bravely" recover from their alcohol problem...



Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Catch and release," high-school style:

» Number 2 Pencil linked with So much for spiking the punch

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Comments (17)

Well this is hilarious.... (Below threshold)

Well this is hilarious.

And it's my alma mater.

And Jay Tea, you are absolutely right, BHS is completely overreacting. The reality is, the 10-15 kids got drunk somewhere else first, and instead of trying to hold some parents responsible for letting thier little brats break in to the liquor cabinet as well as the kids who were drunk, they decide to punish everyone.

For Taxachusetts most annoyingly liberal middle class high school, this doesn't suprise me at all.

And the nerve of those kids getting caught like that. In my day we could hold our liquor.

I hate to say this as a con... (Below threshold)

I hate to say this as a conservative but this is a direct result of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. When a school reports what is considered major problems in substantial numbers it sets up a scenario where it can be called a trouble or at risk school and then here comes the heat. My wife teaches and her principal is loathe to take disciplinary action against students. She had a male student threaten two of her female students with bodily harm. She sent an email to the principal and he didnt even call them into his office. He told her to call the parents. If he did he would have to write it up and report it. They underreport to avoid the label. It is extremely common and a sad by product of flawed legislation

Why not call their parents?... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Why not call their parents? Or maybe the cops.

Of course in this day and age, the parents would probably blame the school, because their child showed up drunk at a dance.

I don't see how the urge to... (Below threshold)

I don't see how the urge to underreport has anything to do with this story. But I see the same pattern of dysaction (I like that rather than over reaction) is common in structured organizations like the military as well as school systems. Perhaps it has something to do with too many layers of incompetent middle managers in the management structure. One of the effects of the Peter Principle.

Isn't it amazing Jay, that mere mortals like you can come up with much more effective and appropriate reactions than these folks with years of "experience" and PhD's in administration lining their walls?

However I wouldn't dys them... (Below threshold)

However I wouldn't dys them for calling the ambulances. Once kids start passing out and puking, you have risks for deaths from alcohol poisoning to consider. Plus you have no way of knowing if they're taking ecstacy or something else as well. So the medical response makes sense. Maybe even closing down the dance.

Also a single day's suspension is not the end of their punishment - the article link states:

The students will serve a one-day suspension today to be followed by a meeting with their parents and high school Principal Jonathan Landman to discuss further disciplinary action, which may range from being barred from after-school activities to expulsion, said School Committee Chairman Scott Stratford.

Funny how there is not one mention of Counselling for alcohol or drug use, or testing for alcohol or drug use in this cohort.

are u kidding me? at my hi... (Below threshold)

are u kidding me? at my high school, i think you'd get suspended if you didn't show up drunk for a school event.

I'm sure the ambulance flee... (Below threshold)

I'm sure the ambulance fleet was legal CYA by the school. I can see some yahoo parent suing the school for providing an "inadequate" response to the situation if a single truck showed up.

I find it hard to blame the students. Have you BEEN to a school dance lately? They ain't as fun as FOOTLOOSE makes them out to be.

Wow that was stupid. Whatev... (Below threshold)

Wow that was stupid. Whatever happened to calling their parents and having them come to the school to pick up their kid and the one week suspension? That would have been the right answer and most logical response.

My goodness, all it takes is some common sense to deal with teenagers. I had two, so that is how I treated my boys - they never could get anything by me.


Can somebody get word to th... (Below threshold)

Can somebody get word to the students at this school that if they gargle with Listerine they will flunk a breath test but show clean on a blood test?

Jay, I'm still waiting for ... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Jay, I'm still waiting for step 4): Severe punishment for innocent students that, in the school's opinion, didn't try hard enough to rat on the louts. And then there's step 5), which consists on finding out what other students might have been within a 10-mile radius when the louts acquired the booze, and severely punishing them for something that they weren't involved in and didn't occur on school property or school time. And then...

And Lance Redstate, I fail ... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

And Lance Redstate, I fail to see how this has anything whatsoever to do, one way or another, with NCLB...

"...From now on, all studen... (Below threshold)

"...From now on, all students attending dances in Westwood will have to blow into breathalyzers ($300-$500 each)."

Oh really. And where are they going to set the BAC bar? Will students have to blow a perfect zero score to be admitted? I would assume they would set the bar that low, since drinking is illegal for those under 21 - but there's also a huge margin of error on the breathalyzers. They are most definitely NOT perfect measures of blood alcohol content, which is why those who blow high numbers on the BAC are almost always given blood tests afterwards.

If the school was worried about lawsuits now, just wait until they kick some lawyer's daughter out of her senior prom for blowing a .02 on a breathalyzer. Now THAT will be a fun lawsuit to watch.

IF these students viola... (Below threshold)

IF these students violated the laws of the Communistwealth of Mass., why are they (and their parents; I assume these drunken students were all minors), not being delt with by the civil authorities? Did any of these students drive to the dance? Where did they get the liquor? How were they able to enter the dance without anyone noticing they were so drunk?

Re: School dances. From the music I have heard at the dances held at the junior high where I teach, parents should be concerned about the lyrics of some of the music played at school dances. IF such language and references to women are not permissible/tolerated in a classroom, why are they allowed at an authorized school function such as a school dance?

I went to the beach, North ... (Below threshold)
Brian Gulino:

I went to the beach, North of San Diego, near where I live. Parked on the street were two police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance. The "disaster" provoking this response consisted of a young woman who had too much to drink, stood up, weaved a bit, then passed out. The ambulance took her to the emergency room.

I actually go to BHS and ye... (Below threshold)

I actually go to BHS and yes," I Survived the Boozemont Luau" which is the phrase written on our classmates t-shits created after that wonderful event. Landman claims that he called the ambulances b/c he thought that there might be something in the air or the water that was making these kids sick. Hmm..alcohol..no way. In fact I only saw about 10 sober kids there. Im not kidding. The thing that annoys the hell out of me is that all the teachers and stuff think they can change our school. Were not that different then other schools. There were just a few students who couldn't hold their schnapps. The news did exagerate soooo much. Honestly, i dont know whether i was in a good state or so to say what happend but i didnt even notcie anything was different than homecoming or semi until we were locked up in the caf and there were 15 ambulances lined up outside letting us out 5 at a time to be breathilyzed. Most of us opted for the safer route aka jumping out the windows or rushing the doors. That was the best hour of my life. not. Luau was quite the experiance and to see people posting and talking about it on Good Morning America makes it all the better.

I'm a junior at BHS, and ye... (Below threshold)

I'm a junior at BHS, and yes, they incredibly overreactaed to this...this is how it is ever year, The only reason why this dance was so different was because we got a new principal and he wanted to do everything his way. We all got screwed for him being an idiot. We were all over the news, and now if anybody from our school say that their from belmont high, we get crap for it. It was amazingly stupid that we got in trouble for some of the other kids (also parents...in our town, they don't give a crap that their kids get trashed every weekend) actions, and even though that happened in March, we are STILL getting punished for it... belmont high may not have another dance again, and even if they will do it will suck and won't be the same, and the news will probably show up for a cover story, like they did during the night of the dance and kept bugging us for questions. They also harassed us on monday morning while we walking to school... oh and by the way, we are no longer called belmont by people... they gave us the name of 'boozemont'.

i also go to bhs...i'm a so... (Below threshold)

i also go to bhs...i'm a sophomore..yeah, i was at the luau. and i can guarantee you i wasnt exactly sober. i'm not going to lie @ all -- the only people that were sober there were the Mormons. it wasn't only "10-15 students" that showed up trashed, it was all of us. landman is a d-bag, he KNEW he didn't need 15 god damn ambulance..and how the hell did hte news teams find out? i had to walk to school from the hill, which i think is quite a hike to the high school, the whole way there i had some fake blonde lady trying to get me to comment on the school...3 days straight. a) we couldve sued landman for being the reason for our harassment, and b) landman is one of those principals that only signs a 2 year contract (did i mention he's leaving next year..after 2 years..yeah he got asked not to renew his contract..) to mess up the school and then move onto another school to fuck that one up too. our school had an alright reputation before this -- but ever since the luau, he's let the news in on some other information too. not sure if any of you saw the whole "belmont high choking game" story on the news -- yeah 6 kids were called out on the choking game, admitted to it -- and of COURSE, landman blows it WAYYY out of proportion...again.

and like "D" said, our parents KNOW we get trashed -- as a matter of fact one of my best friends dad plays beruit with us...yeah he was on my team and we won. we have parties with our parents home -- landman should get over the fact that he isnt going to change what almost EVERY teenager does -- he's just a d-bag that needs to get a life - scratch that, he needs to end life






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