Parent Sues School Over Prom Transportation Policy

Posted on May 18, 2005 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

SANFORD, MAINE — Some parents of Sanford High School students are objecting to a policy that says students must ride to the spring prom in a limousine or one of six coach buses provided by the school.

Marylou Mitchell of Sanford said she filed a request in Springvale District Court seeking a court order that would allow her to drive her 18-year-old son to his prom, which is being held at a South Portland hotel.

She said school officials shouldn’t be allowed to regulate when parents drive their children to off-campus activities. "You can’t pick and choose what times you want to have control and what times you don’t," she said.

School committee members approved the prom transportation policy in November, said Elizabeth St. Cyr, acting superintendent of Sanford Schools. The committee was concerned the school was legally responsible for the children from 2 p.m. Saturday, when students gather at the school for the annual Grand March ritual, until the end of the prom at 11 p.m. Committee members later learned the school wasn’t responsible for the students between the march and when the prom begins, but still voted again last month in favor of the policy, St. Cyr said.

Susan Sansevieri, who started the push to allow parents to drive their kids to prom, said she thinks the rule is backlash from recent publicity about underage drinking. A dozen Deering High School students in Portland were suspended in early April for attending a school dance intoxicated.

School officials shouldn’t make generalizations because a few parents believe it’s OK to buy alcohol for their children, Sansevieri said. She said she would feel more comfortable taking her daughter, a junior, to the dance, and isn’t asking school officials to allow the children to drive themselves.

"I’ve driven these kids to concerts in Boston. I take them myself because I don’t want them riding with other teenagers," Sansevieri said.

Despite the controversy, ticket sales for the dance were on par with previous years, St. Cyr said. She said school officials will warn students to act responsibly between 3 p.m., after the Grand March, until 5:30 p.m., when the buses leave Sanford for South Portland.

It is a long-standing policy that students must arrive at 7 p.m. when the prom begins and stay until the event concludes, she said.

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