In the fallout from a high school trip with allegations of underage drinking, a North Texas instructor is no longer teaching and administrators and parents are arguing over who is most to blame.
In all, 67 band, dance and orchestra students from Newman Smith High School in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district took a trip to South Padre Island in April. A district spokesperson said seven chaperones were present, but parents alleged the students were left unsupervised overnight and threw parties that led to students being suspended, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Parents are upset their children received lengthy suspensions following disciplinary hearings in which they argue administrators relied on anonymous statements about who drank at the parties in the Saida Towers condominiums, according to the News.
Dave Bunger, an attorney representing two of the parents, said students were not given due process during the hearings. He told the newspaper that administrators are more concerned with blaming and punishing students than accepting responsibility for a lack of adult oversight during the trip.
“The bottom line is this: Yes, it appears that a bunch of kids did something that they shouldn’t have done,” Bunger told the News. “The problem is that there wasn’t adequate supervision.”
One parent who asked to remain anonymous said his son received a punishment of 45 days in an alternative education program and that the boy had been accused of drinking alcohol.
Michael Moore, whose son got the same punishment, told the News that administration at the district “acts as judge, jury and executioner. These kids cannot get a fair shake.”
District spokesperson Angela Shelley told the newspaper in a written statement that students were never unsupervised. However, she also said the district learned of “possible violations of District policy and other inappropriate behavior by a teacher at Smith High School.”
She said the teacher in question is no longer in the classroom, but didn’t provide the teacher’s name or the disciplinary action taken.
“CFBISD conducted a complete investigation and took all necessary action,” Shelley said. “This is a personnel matter and student discipline matter and no further information can be released.”