EGHS Dance Marred By Student Drinking

by | Mar 25, 2014

One student was found to have been drinking at the student dance at East Greenwich High School Friday night. Another student was asked to leave “based on behavior,” according to a note to parents Monday from Principal Michael Podraza. According to reports from others who were at the dance, several students appeared to have been drinking.

Podraza said 13 adults were on hand to help supervise the dance – one school administrator, eight faculty members, two parents and two police officers. Students were not allowed to leave and re-enter the dance, he said, and any students needing to go outside were escorted by an adult.

“Unfortunately, despite these measures, a student was found in violation of the school’s policy on alcohol and is facing disciplinary measures in accordance with the student handbook (pages 22 & 23) and due process (page 18 & 19). Another student was asked to leave the dance based on behavior,” Podraza wrote.

He continued, “Given incidents at this and other dances, as well as our obligation to the community of East Greenwich to provide an environment that is safe from drugs and alcohol, our supervision practices for all events at EGHS will be reviewed. After review, we will work with members of East Greenwich School Department and School Committee to make appropriate recommendations and take meaningful action.”

Here is the full text of Principal Podraza’s note to parents:

Unfortunately, I am writing you today to address both your and my concerns about the real and rumored events surrounding the dance on 3/21/2014.

As is the case with all EGHS dances, the following supervision was in place to provide a safe environment:

  • An administrator, eight faculty members, two parents, and two members of the East Greenwich Police Department greeted students as they entered the building.

  • Supervision of students continued for the duration of the evening including bathrooms, the dance floor, stairwells, and outside of the building.

  • At no time are students allowed to leave and re-enter the dance.  During the dance, students who needed to go outside for any reason would have been escorted by an adult.

Unfortunately, despite these measures, a student was found in violation of the school’s policy on alcohol and is facing disciplinary measures in accordance with the student handbook (pages 22 & 23) and due process (page 18 & 19). Another student was asked to leave the dance based on behavior.

Given incidents at this and other dances, as well as our obligation to the community of East Greenwich to provide an environment that is safe from drugs and alcohol, our supervision practices for all events at EGHS will be reviewed.  After review, we will work with members of East Greenwich School Department and School Committee to make appropriate recommendations and take meaningful action.

As you are aware, it takes an entire community to help its children at any age to make productive and positive choices. This is a very difficult task given all the pressures that many of our children face.  No matter the difficulty, it is one responsibility that we cannot, and will not relent.  We are grateful for the many resources the community of East Greenwich provides us to make our current level of supports possible. The services of Mr. Robert Houghtaling, School Resource Officers Branch and Montalban, as well as school social workers, nurses, teachers, and guidance counselors are just a few examples of people within East Greenwich Schools who work with students daily to prevent substance abuse.

However, we also need your help, as teenage drinking and drug use are not a “school” problem, or a problem that is isolated to dances or games – drug and alcohol abuse is a family and a community problem. Vigilant, concerned parents utilizing open communication and concrete actions with their children to discourage drug and alcohol use are the best tools that we have to keep our kids safe.

As mood swings and unpredictable behavior are typical developmental characteristics for many teenagers, parents may find it difficult to spot signs of alcohol and drug abuse. But if your child starts to exhibit one or more of the following signs, drug/alcohol use or abuse may be at the heart of the problem:

  • Your child is withdrawn, depressed, tired, and careless about personal grooming.

  • Your child is hostile and uncooperative; he frequently breaks curfews.

  • Your child’s relationships with family members have deteriorated.

  • Your child is hanging around with a new group of friends.

  • Your child’s grades have slipped, and her school attendance is irregular.

  • Your child has lost interest in hobbies, sports, and other favorite activities.

  • Your child’s eating or sleeping patterns have changed; she’s up at night and sleeps during the day.

  • Your child has a hard time concentrating.

  • Your child’s eyes are red-rimmed and/or her nose is runny in the absence of a cold.

  • Household money has been disappearing.

  • The presence of pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, or butane lighters in your home also may signal that your child may be using drugs.

Please see the following links for assistance if these signals are concerning you:

http://www.drugfree.org/intervene

http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/otheralcoholinformation/makedifference.aspx

I am deeply saddened that a week of events that was made possible by the exemplary behavior East Greenwich High School students have demonstrated throughout the course of this school year has now been tarnished. However, I am confident that by reviewing our current protocols, looking at current policies, and working together as a school and community we will continue to have events where students are able to enjoy the celebrations while remaining drug and alcohol free.

Thank you for your support of our students and of East Greenwich High School.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Podraza

Principal

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