INK IN THE BLOOD
If the incident involves underaged drinkers, the headlines are often bigger and, regrettably, more damaging in a number of ways.
There is an ongoing debate about what is a “responsible age” to begin drinking alcoholic beverages. Maturity comes at different ages for young people, so the issue of the responsible age to consume is impossible to reach consensus.
Federal law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing alcohol. That generally applies to the public consumption as well although no age limit is applied to drinking in one’s own home.
Many years ago, in this small town where I was editing a weekly newspaper, there was an ongoing event involving a large number of underage drinkers. The story played out over several months with a lot of very serious results.
It seems that the longtime president of this town’s school board, a professional man and father of four, threw parties at his home for his teen children and scores of their friends. Alcoholic beverages were not only served openly at these parties but the father/school board president joined in drinking with his children and their teen guests.
According to several local residents, these parties were a regular occurrence for a dozen years or more. Some parents told me that if their children were at these parties, then at least they weren’t out on the roads drinking and risking lives. Hmph!
An incident involving Daddy School Board President and a “new girl in town” at one of his weekend parties blew the lid off.
It seems that Daddy followed the “new girl” (age 15) to the bathroom in the master suite and made inappropriate remarks. The girl stormed out, went home and told her parents, who went to the high school on Monday morning and confronted the principal with the story. The principal, a newcomer himself and a principled man, began digging into the story of teen drinking parties at the board president’s home and got a long list of students who’d attended.
Those students involved in extracurricular activities at school, and confirmed as consuming alcohol at the party, were suspended from those activities.
That included everything from sports to student council. One of those suspended was the board president’s cheerleader daughter.
Incensed, Board Prez called the principal at his home and threatened to fire him.
Naturally, there were several stories about the party and resulting suspensions. Prez declined to be interviewed but the principal and some parents of students who’d been at the party (without prior knowledge or approval by those parents) had plenty to say.
The principal stood behind the suspensions. Another Prez phone call to the principal promised dismissal once the situation had “cooled down.”
Headlines of the events diminished and public memories faded. A year later, just prior to filing deadline for school board elections, Prez announced he wouldn’t seek reelection.
A couple of days after filing deadline, Prez called the principal and told him that at a board meeting scheduled for that evening, he would be summarily and immediately fired. “I told you I’d get you,” Prez said.
The principal was terminated and the board and superintendent refused to comment. Ever.
The principal went on to a career as a college administrator although the sting of the grossly irresponsible firing lingered.
In the subsequent school board election, a couple of new faces were chosen as school trustees and during the next couple of years, the entire complexion of the board changed.
Over the years, metropolitan spillover growth began to dramatically change that school district. Today it has a half dozen high schools and thousands and thousands of students.
The memory, if any, of that notorious incident—despite the very dramatic impact on a then-small town—has sadly faded..