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MONTGOMERY COUNTY

26 Students Who Skipped School to Party Are Suspended

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By Jennifer Lenhart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shortly after the school day began Wednesday, more than two dozen students from Rockville High School skipped classes and gathered for an early morning party at the house of two siblings whose parents were not home.

The party did not last long.

By late morning, 26 students had been given breath tests, and 21 of them had been issued citations for offenses that included consumption of alcohol by a minor and possession and distribution of alcohol, police and school officials said.

All 26 -- two sophomores, two juniors and 22 seniors -- were suspended for two days, a punishment meted out by Rockville Principal Debra S. Munk. They were allowed back in class yesterday.

School officials said the suspended students included "many athletes," a class president and a student who had received a $50 Rotary Club award for good citizenship. The athletes were removed from their teams, the class president had to step down and the award winner had to forfeit the prize.

None of the students' names were released.

Parties such as this "have happened before," Munk said. But this time, Munk said, she was able to work on her hunch that the large number of students absent from school was not a coincidence.

After talking with students, Munk said she was able to pinpoint the likely location of the party. She dispatched the school-based police officer, along with two security assistants.

About 9:45 a.m., more than a half-dozen Montgomery County police officers arrived at the house as backup and to help administer blood alcohol tests.

"This is a situation that we were actually able to uncover a large gathering," Munk said. "We were able to spot it, and we had instincts, and the stars just kind of aligned where we were able to figure it out. The positive side was that the kids finally figured out that we're smarter than they thought we were."

The punishment was characterized yesterday as appropriate by some students, parents and teachers.

"I'm actually surprised because it wasn't as harsh as I thought it was going to be," said Cristina Chow, 17, a senior who said she was invited to the party but chose not to attend. "I actually think that's pretty lenient."


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