Updated: Police Commission Asked To Look Into Alleged Incident At Middle Schools Dance

Stonington Police Chief J. Darren Stewart says there was no indication of an intoxicated student at the April 20 middle schools dance.


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.

Bartlett April 24, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I read all the Patch - Facebook comments. Where is the proof that the student was drinking? Not rumor and innuendo - but proof?
Jack April 24, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Probably just a kid trying to act cool on front of her friends.
ElleT April 24, 2012 at 07:59 PM
My daughter was in the bathroom with this child. We talked extensively about what she actually heard, (vs. what others are saying) and the different ways it could be interpreted. Did what she heard, actually mean the child in question had been drinking? Could it have meant something else? Did my daughter actually see anything (alcohol? drugs?)? Did she hear any statements that made her uncomfortable and why? We've had a lot of good discussion at our house since the dance. The school's handling of the situation has simply given us many other good topics of discussion.
Dannyboy April 24, 2012 at 08:52 PM
The Stonington Police can handle the situation. They can gather the facts and interview all involved. Lets not get crazy over this thing. Even if it did happen there is no need to get too crazy about it. Kids make mistakes just as adults do. Lets let the people who deal with kids every day handle this. I am confident that they will do what is best for the kids and the school. The kids handle it better than the adults sometimes.
Concerned parent April 24, 2012 at 09:03 PM
In the same vain, they're not explaining what the proof was to let us know she had not been drinking.
Roger Gerrish April 24, 2012 at 10:20 PM
The police and school officials are paid with our taxes Let them do thier jobs.
parent April 25, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Proof?? 80 proof!!! Sad that these kids are enabled by their superiors. From what I have read this kid swiped the hooch from somewhere. I work in the school system and its very disturbing to see what these kids get away with. These kids that are allowed to do, and say as they please and no punishment is given for their actions. In my kids 4th grade class the f-bomb is a frequently used word on a daily basis and nothing is done about it!!! Slap on the wrist!! So sad that our society has come to this. What happened to zero tolerance. These kids are our future.... Leanne the system is broken!!!! Why is this allowed to happen?
KT April 25, 2012 at 03:05 PM
More sad is that there were a few kids that were brave enough to speak up to an adult when they knew something was amiss.... then to have it swept up in a neat pile...food poisoning... i give kudos to the kids.
Bill April 25, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I find this whole article sad. As a community member, I expect more from my town then publishing rumors. Has anyone thought of the fact that school are held to confidentiality when it comes to a students health? It is truly upsetting that people in my town are this ignorant, and lowering themselves to the standard of spreading rumors. How is this good role modeling for our children? Please, think before you type.
Ashley Parker April 25, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Please give our 8th graders more credit, they are not stupid. They know what they witnessed and smelled. When things are not handled properly and no punishment is doled out, we send a very strong message about what they can get away with. It is maddening to think that student could show up to school with a Guinness t-shirt on and get suspended. But show up at a dance with witnesses to support the accusations and nothing is done. Well done once again Stonington.
KT April 25, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Hey Bill... was your daughter in the bathroom and a witness to this? Maybe you would feel differently if she were.
Denise April 25, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Bill- the whole confidentiality thing has gone way over board. If it was my child doing this you better belief as the parent I would not be worried about embarrassing my child. Maybe if more children were held accountable for their actions then these kinds things would not happen.
Alzira Pereira April 25, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I am honestly not sure about anything because I wasn't there so I am just going by what I heard. My son attended this dance. He walked out when I picked him up and the first thing he said was he had a great time but it smelled like "weed" at the dance or through the gym. Of course I asked him how he knew what weed smelled like and he said this incense I use (sage) which twice now someone smelled at my house and asking if I was smoking marijuana. He also said that someone told him that she had seen a girl hiding a bottle in her dress. Ok is it true? Is it a rumor? I don't know. The teachers at PMS are fantastic and I am sure they did what they could as chaperones. Things happen. Kids try to be cooler. I really hope that it didn't happen and hopefully it was food poisoning but who knows. It's just too bad that some kids might ruin things for others. I know after discussing it all in the car with him on the way home I had gone on facebook and other "moms" of other children had written basically the same things that they had seen or smelled. These kids hadn't even hung around with my son. Again I just say who knows?
Ashley Parker April 25, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I think we are going to see a lot more cases of "food poisoning" at school events, we have now given students the permission that they needed to get away with something.
emily phillips April 26, 2012 at 12:03 AM
I was actullay at the dance. When I walked in the bathroom the student was in there throwing up. My friends and heard that she was drunk or smoking weed. But all I know is that she was throwing up pretty much the whole dance.


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