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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 90220
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My son, aged 17, was at a party a week ago where minors were

Customer Question

My son, aged 17, was at a party a week ago where minors were drinking alcohol. The police were called by the neighbors for noise. The police did not confiscate any alcohol, did not arrest anyone, did not breathalyze anyone. Several kids ran into the woods. About 1/3 of the kids there, including my son, were asked for identification. A few claimed they did not have id on them. Those with ID had their names taken down. Parents were called by all in attendance and had to pick up their child. One boy was allowed to drive home, the rest had to leave their vehicles. The parent at the house is being fined for littering. No charges filed. The incident happened in Falmouth Mass. Several days after the incident the Falmouth police provided the Bourne Mass police with the list of names from the party (we live in Bourne. The Bourne police then gave the list to Bourne High school. My son, a member of the National Honor Society and the baseball team, was not allowed to play in the last baseball game of the season for violating MIAA regulations. He is scheduled for a hearing with the NHS committee so they can kick him out of NHS two days before graduation. The policy broken is being at a party where there was alcohol present whether you drank or not. My question - did the Falmouth police have the right to provide the list of only some kids present to the Bourne police and did the Bourne police have the right to give that to the school? My son was not intoxicated when I picked him up. He was not charged with any crime. Yet he is being treated like a criminal with no right to "innocent until proven guilty". He is the only student involved who is being punished in any way.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

Legally, there is no prohibition under MA General Laws for the police to share information with a student's high school. The incident is actually public record and no duty of confidentiality exists of this type of incident.

If there was no evidence your son was drinking or in possession of alcohol, the school has no legal basis for expelling him from the school. In fact, your son had a right to appeal the suspension from the last baseball game to MIAA on an emergency basis and provided them the evidence that he was not consuming or in actual possession of alcohol.

MIAA Rule 62.1 States:

62.1 From the earliest fall practice date, to the conclusion of the academic year or final athletic event (whichever is latest), a student shall not, regardless of the quantity, use, consume, possess, buy/sell, or give away any beverage containing alcohol; any tobacco product; marijuana; steroids; or any controlled substance. This policy includes products such as “NA or near beer”. It is not a violation for a student to be in possession of a legally defined drug specifically prescribed for the student’s own use by his/her doctor.
This MIAA statewide minimum standard is not intended to render “guilt by association”, e.g. many student athletes might be present at a party where only a few violate this standard. This rule represents only a minimum standard upon which schools may develop more stringent requirements.
56
MIAA Handbook July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2013
If a student in violation of this rule is unable to participate in interscholastic sports due to injury or academics, the penalty will not take effect until that student is able to participate again.
Minimum PENALTIES: (also see Rule 32.8 – Ineligible Students)
First violation: When the Principal confirms, following an opportunity for the student to be heard, that a violation occurred, the student shall lose eligibility for the next consecutive interscholastic contests (regular season and tournament) totaling 25% of all interscholastic contests in that sport. No exception is permitted for a student who becomes a participant in a treatment program. It is recommended that the student be allowed to remain at practice for the purpose of rehabilitation. During the suspension the disqualified student may not be in uniform and his/her attendance at the competition site is determined by the high school principal. All decimal part of an event will be truncated i.e. All fractional part of an event will be dropped when calculating the 25% of the season.
Second and subsequent violations: When the Principal confirms, following an opportunity for the student to be heard, that a violation occurred, the student shall lose eligibility for the next consecutive interscholastic contests (regular season and tournament) totaling 60% of all interscholastic contests in that sport. All decimal part of an event will be truncated i.e. All fractional part of an event will be dropped when calculating the 60% of the season.
If after the second or subsequent violations the student of his/her own volition becomes a participant in an approved chemical dependency program or treatment program, the student may be certified for reinstatement in MIAA activities after a minimum of 40% of events provided the student was fully engaged in the program throughout that penalty period. The high school principal in collaboration with a Chemical Dependency Program or Treatment Program must certify that student is attending or issue a certificate of completion. If student does not complete program, penalty reverts back to 60% of the season. All decimal part of an event will be truncated i.e. All fractional part of an event will be dropped when calculating the 40% of the season.
Penalties shall be cumulative each academic year, but serving the penalty could carry over for one year. Or, if the penalty period is not completed during the season of violation, the penalty shall carry over to the student’s next season of actual participation, which may affect the eligibility status of the student during the next academic year. (e.g. A student plays only football: he violates the rule in winter and/or the spring of same academic year: he would serve the penalty [ies] during the fall season of the next academic year)
...

If there was no proof he used, consumed or possessed the prohibited substance, then under the MIAA rule he had no business being suspended under MIAA rules, but principals of a school can have a more strict rule than the MIAA rule.

You need to be prepared to file for an emergency injunction against the school board, with graduation being so close, if the school at the hearing decides to try to expel or suspend him and this means you need to sit with a local attorney to file the petition for temporary injunction against the school if they try to suspend him without any evidence he consumed or even possessed alcohol.



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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi. They are not trying to expel him from school, but to kick him out of National Honor Society prior to graduation. Their charter does supposedly state that being in the presence of underage drinking is not allowed.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the clarification. They still have to prove he had some involvement with the alcohol other than just being at the party and he would have the right to appeal any removal from the NHS to the board of the NHS as the NHS rules say possession or use of alcohol is discretionary for discipline up to removal and unless your son's high school specifically modified those rules they should still not be able to remove him from the NHS without proof he possessed or used the alcohol.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback. I did not place your son in the predicament he is in and I wish him all of the best with his situation and wish you similar best wishes. I am sorry he is in the situation, but blaming us for providing you the information available to us in the law and from a MA licensed attorney is pretty disingenuous. Again good luck to both you and your son.

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