Students knew policy, punishment

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Thoughts on issues relating to Howard County

April 24, 2005

Last week's question: Ten Mount Hebron High School students were punished for drinking during a school-sponsored trip to Portugal and Spain. The students and their parents contend that their teacher, who was the trip's chaperone, gave them permission to have one drink. That allegation is under investigation by school officials. Each student was suspended for three days and banned from extracurricular and other school-related activities for 30 days, as called for in the school system's drug and alcohol policy.

The students and their parents call the punishment harsh, considering the unusual circumstances surrounding the incident. But school officials say the students and their parents signed an agreement indicating that all school policies, including regulations against drugs and alcohol, apply to them on school-sponsored field trips. Parents are appealing the suspension to the Board of Education.

Students were aware of the consequences

The 10 Mount Hebron High School students were rightly punished for drinking during a school-sponsored trip.

The possibility of suspension and banishment from extracurricular and other school-related activities is clearly outlined as a consequence in the school system's drug and alcohol policy, which the students and their parents willingly signed prior to the trip. Despite the allegation that their school chaperone gave them permission to have a drink, these 17-year-old young adults had the ability and the choice to say no. The school system and the Board of Education have the responsibility to adhere to the regulations and must refuse to bow to parent and/or public pressure.

Chi Song

Ellicott City

Parents must support disciplinary policies

I believe the punishment fits the crime for the Mount Hebron students because this has been an issue for many years and everyone involved knew the consequences and signed the contracts. I just hope the teacher/chaperone also gets some form of punishment.

We, as parents, have to support the school system in these policies or we will never reduce the drinking problems of our children.

Patty Burton

Jessup

Punishment suits students' offense

The Howard County Public School System Drug and Alcohol Policy clearly states that a student is in violation of policy if the student is to "possess, use ... or distribute alcohol or other drugs on school property or at school-related activities."

It also states the punishments for a first offense violation include "suspension for up to 30 school days, suspension from attendance at, participation in and practice for all extracurricular activities for thirty school days, and participation in a parent/guardian-student conference with a school administrator prior to the conclusion of the suspension."

This past month, a group of 16 Mount Hebron students took a school-affiliated trip to Spain and Portugal. Prior to this excursion, all 16 students signed a drug and alcohol policy stating that they would not possess, use or distribute alcohol or any other drug. While on the trip, a group of 10 students consumed alcohol.

The students' explanation for drinking after they had signed the drug and alcohol policy was that a teacher allegedly said they could each have "one drink." When the administration found out about this incident, officials punished the 10 offenders by suspending them for three days from school and for 30 days from extracurricular and school-related activities, including Mount Hebron's prom.

In my opinion, the administration is justified in suspending the students. Since the drug and alcohol policy was breached, they should suffer the full consequences of their actions. I also feel that any respectable teacher who was in compliance with the Howard County Public School policies would not allow the consumption of alcohol on a school-affiliated trip, making the rumor about the students' teacher saying it was OK to drink questionable.

Overall, I am completely disgusted by the actions of the Mount Hebron students and feel that they received the proper punishment for their offense.

Allison Baker

Clarksville

The writer is a 10th-grader at River Hill High School.

Punish teacher; reconsider field trips

As the parent of a graduate of Mount Hebron High School, I am at once disgusted and dismayed by the drinking incident by seniors on a spring break trip to Portugal. Disgusted at the lack of obvious oversight by the school administrators, school board and parents, and dismayed as to why the "teacher" and his/her 21- to 22-year-old son could ever be considered qualified to "chaperone" a group of high school students.

It's not much of a stretch to conclude that the "teacher's" main motivation was a "free ride" on a European vacation advertised as a "cultural educational experience" for a group of students mainly interested in party time in Portugal.

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