A parent of a middle school student has asked the Stonington Police Commission to look into an alleged incident that occurred at the middle schools dance last Friday.
and held a dance for seventh- and eighth-grade students on Friday, April 20 at Pawcatuck Middle School. The persistent rumor since then has been that one student was intoxicated at the dance and several students reported seeing a drunk, sick student in the bathroom and later in the office with a police officer and other adults.
Administrators from Stonington Public Schools deny there was an intoxicated student at the dance. In an email to parents and families sent at 9 p.m., Monday, Mystic Middle School , Pawcatuck Middle School Principal Tim Smith and wrote:
“We would like to take this opportunity dispel some persistent rumors about the Pawcatuck/Mystic Middle School dance held last Friday night. We assure you that the adult chaperones and the Stonington Police Officer on duty in the building reported that there were no drug and/or alcohol related issues at the dance. At the middle school level, we continuously work with students to develop their understanding of how counterproductive ‘rumors’ can be for all involved. We view this as an important ‘teachable moment’ to reinforce this with students and families.”
Police Commissioner Susette Tibus said a parent asked her Tuesday to find out what had happened at the dance and she was in the process of contacting Police Chief J. Darren Stewart about the alleged incident.
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Stewart told Stonington-Mystic Patch he talked to the officer in charge of the dance and according to the officer, "there was no indication of alcohol." He said he has received a number of phone calls and emails from parents about the alleged incident.
Parents are using the alleged incident to speak with their own children about drugs and alcohol and debate the procedures and responsibility for allowing students into the dance.
“There is responsibility to be doled out for everyone," Sarah Myers wrote on Stonington-Mystic Patch’s Facebook page: ”A. the school should never have admitted the student in, but in fact, immediately called the parents B. Adults at the dance need to be watching closer, C. The person responsible for providing the alcohol needs to be held accountable D. If parent/guardian wasn't located, then call the police... that's public intoxication regardless of how old the person is.”
Board of Education Chairwoman Gail MacDonald said the all policies governing student behavior at school sponsored events are available on the schools website. MacDonald said that as the Board of Education has not been asked about the proper adherence to policies there was no reason for the board to get involved in the “current uniformed gossip and discussion.”
Mystic Middle School and Pawcatuck Middle School follow the same protocol for school dances. According to Superintendent Leeane Masterjoseph the schools require students to check in at a registration table staffed by teachers prior to entering the dance. A school administrator and police officer are also present at registration. During the registration students must show their picture school ID and only seventh and eighth grade students from Pawcatuck Middle School and Mystic Middle School can attend.
“All school rules apply during the dance and parents will be asked to pick up any child that does not abide by school rules,” Masterjoseph wrote in an email adding that, “Failure to abide by dance procedures may result in loss of privilege to attend future dances and/or disciplinary consequences.”
According to Masterjoseph once a student leaves the dance the student may not return. Chaperones from both schools supervise students throughout the dance.
Many parents have been disappointed with the school system’s response to the alleged incident.
“I am very unhappy with the way the school has handled this situation,” Tiffany Walsh said on Stonington-Mystic Patch’s Facebook page. “My child was told that it was a rumor and the girl had food poisoning. So is that how they handle things? They let her go unpunished and cover it up?”
And Dana Johnson wrote: “Now the vague (CYA) letter from the school was that it was all "rumors". She put on a pretty good act...smelling like a distillery, having my daughter feel the bottle that she said was vodka, puking in the bathroom, and saying she had weed in her pocket since it was ‘National Smoke Pot Day.’ Seems like the school wants to sweep this on one under the rug.”
This story was updated on Wednesday, April 25, at 12:30 p.m. to reflect Masterjoseph's comments on middle school dance protocol.