Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1998, New Haven Register
Pubdate: 14 Oct 1998
Author: Lynn Fredricksen


GUILFORD - Authorities, angry enough with boozing high schoolers to shut
down a homecoming dance Saturday night, on Tuesday seemed more annoyed by
some parents' attitudes about the incident.

Police said the annual dance for high school students started out fine at
Abraham Baldwin Middle School. Later, one girl was taken to the hospital
for treatment of "severe intoxication." She has recovered.

The police officer working at the dance, Detective William Maisano, became
concerned because other students also had been drinking. He consulted with
members of the Park and Recreation Department, which supervised the dance,
and the event was closed at about 10:45 p.m., said Rick Maynard, director
of parks and recreation. It had been scheduled to run until 1 a.m.

The dance was organized by START, or Sober Teens Acting Responsibly
Together. The group is sponsored by the Park and Recreation Department.It
consists of 15 to 20 teens who want to promote a lifestyle free of alcohol
and other drugs.

Police estimated that of the several hundred teen-agers who attended the
dance, about 25 percent had been drinking before they arrived.

Maynard also said some START members felt those who were drinking were
trying to send a message to the anti-drugs group.

"I'm devastated for these (START) kids," Maynard said. "They are the heroes
(and) they're so disappointed."

START has sponsored the homecoming dance for six years "and never, ever had
a problem with it," Maynard said.

"There were a lot of good kids there, but unfortunately a number of their
peers ruined it for them," he added.

The students were allowed to remain at the school to wait for
transportation and were cooperative in leaving the area , officials said.

While most parents were supportive of the decision to shut down the
festivities, two in particular were upset, police said.

"One parent wanted to know what the big deal was," Chief Ken Cruz said.
"She said her kid drank before the dance, with her, and at that she said
all they had was wine."

Another parent who had her own plans to go out dancing for the evening was
annoyed and inconvenienced when she was called to pick up her child at
11:30, Cruz said.

"Parents like this make me just shake my head and wonder," Cruz said.

One parent was unhappy that the well-behaved students had to be punished
along with those who showed up drunk.

"I'm upset at how the incident was handled," said the parent, who asked
that his name not be used. "They never even announced the homecoming king
or queen. I don't see why they couldn't just deal with the kids that were
the problem. Everybody got penalized."

Maynard said there will be dances again, but nothing is firm yet. They will
be smaller and held at the Nathanael Greene Community Center, he said.

He said one parent among dozens who called him about the incident suggested
use of a Breathalyzer to weed out students who have been drinking. He said
none who came to Saturday's dance were obviously drunk when they arrived.

He said getting a Breathalyzer is something "we want to consider."

The majority of the parents who called endorsed the way the situation was
handled after they learned the facts, Maynard said. Some offered to assist
at future dances.

Shoreline Bureau Chief Phil Greenvall contributed to this story. 
- ---
Checked-by: Mike Gogulski