What to Know
- Six students were allegedly drunk at the school’s prom and in violation of the school’s police against alcohol at school events.
- Principal Donna Jones banned the six from participating in graduation ceremonies as punishment.
- Jones’ decision was overruled by Larry Bowers, the interim school superintendent.
Graduating from high school is a rite of passage and one of the biggest days in a young person's life. The ceremony at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School will be overshadowed by a controversy about a principal’s discipline for six students.
Those students were allegedly drunk at the school’s prom and in violation of the school’s policy against alcohol at school events. Principal Donna Jones banned the six from participating in graduation ceremonies as punishment.
“Everybody was operating under that impression,” said PTSA President Deb Ford. “We feel, the PTA feels that it was a huge deterrent at our prom this year, and it worked.”
Last week, Jones’ decision was overruled by Larry Bowers, the interim school superintendent.
“The Board of Education policy is clear that, as a matter of general practice, the exclusion from commencement ceremonies may not be included in local school policies regarding disciplinary standards and procedures,” he wrote in a letter to parents.
Ford said the decision to overrule the principal leaves the community confused about how the school can respond to bad behavior by students.
“Our community is outraged, because we don't know how to proceed next year,” Ford said. “Worrying what are we going to say as a deterrent to this behavior.”
"I just don't think the superintendent should have cut the principal off at the knees," said Maggie Fairbrother, a parent. "Not only the principal, who thought long and hard about this, but the adults, the parents around here."
There will be a PTSA meeting Thursday night to object to the interim superintendent overruling their principal on the punishment for students showing up drunk to school events.
Students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School were divided over decision to allow the six students to receive their diplomas at graduation.
“You did all the work up to senior year,” said Julian Seaton. “One mistake shouldn't affect all of that.”
“I think it's really important for people, especially young people, to understand consequences,” said Caroline Lander.
“I understand that Principal Jones’ intentions were to keep people safe,” said Jack Newman. “But at the same time, I felt that singling out these six kids was a little harsh, considering there were a lot of people who weren't caught.”
The six students were permitted to participate in graduation rehearsal on Tuesday.