20 students sit out after party night

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PARIS – About 20 Oxford Hills high school students have been benched from their extracurricular activities for their conduct outside of school, and one parent is not pleased.

School officials suspended the students from extracurricular activities for 30 days after learning they were at New Year’s Eve parties where drinking occurred.

At Monday night’s board meeting, parent Mike Cloutier spoke out against the punishment. He said that while some students at the party his daughter attended were drinking, getting drunk and some even getting sick, she didn’t find out until after the fact that there was something more than Coke in the plastic soda bottles there.

His daughter, a sophomore basketball player at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, received the same punishment as the students who were drinking and getting drunk, Cloutier said. This is not fair, he argued, because punishments should be assessed on an individual level instead of giving everyone the same time.

Tuesday night, his daughter sat out her seventh game.

The policy states that anyone found to be drinking or “knowingly present” while drinking is going on would be subject to suspension from extracurricular activities for up to 30 days. All students involved in extracurricular activities sign a contract, along with a parent, agreeing to these rules.

After hearing from Cloutier, school officials said they stand by the policy.

SAD 17 Superintendent Mark Eastman said the school has “zero tolerance” for drinking.

A parent had told school officials about the party Cloutier’s daughter was at, and about 70 students were interviewed in the process that led to the suspensions.

Cloutier said his daughter wrote a statement that conflicted with others, so officials “assumed she was lying” and suspended her with the others.

High school varsity boys basketball coach Scott Graffam would not comment as to why three of his players were not on the court beyond that they “were out for violating team rules.”

High school Principal Ted Moccia and Athletic Director Jeff Benson determined the punishment, Eastman said. Benson would not comment on the incident.

“There was a violation of the contract, and certain students were given the consequences,” Moccia said.

SAD 17 Policy Committee Chairman John Jenness of Paris discussed the policy with the committee Tuesday. The lawyer said he does not agree with mandatory minimum “sentences,” which is essentially what the policy dictates.

No changes were made, he said.

“We discussed if anyone wanted to change the policy,” Jenness said. “Mr. Cloutier’s comments were fair, and we reviewed the policy again.”

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