BOZRAH, CONN. – The Board of Education tried to take the red carpet out of school functions Monday, but its new rule may merely extend the carpet to the street.
The board ruled that limousines are not allowed on school property, an attempt to stop eighth-graders from using them as transportation for graduation ceremonies and dinner dances. Some board members questioned the appropriateness of students that young traveling in the luxury automobiles.
"We have to keep in perspective that this is the eighth grade," board member Jane Seder said.
But banning the vehicles from school property doesn't keep limousines from stopping just outside the property line and letting students out there, some board members said. The students could walk a short distance across a parking lot to the school.
"We certainly can't limit people from bringing a limousine to school, but we can keep it off school property," board member Daniel Tracy said.
Superintendent David Easterly said students have used limousines to get to graduation or more often to get to an annual dinner-dance in New London or other out-of-town locations. Easterly said sometimes money from class fund-raisers is used to pay for the limousines for all the students to go to the dinner-dances.
"I'm not sure the community would support the fund-raiser if they thought the money was going toward (limousines)," Seder said.
Board members said limousines also congest parking lots during graduation when space is scarce.
Board member Richard Martin voted against the measure, saying he agreed that eighth-graders shouldn't be riding to school events in limousines, but the school board shouldn't tell parents how to get their children to school.
"Is the next step limiting SUVs because they're as big as limousines?" Martin asked.
The board said there would be no exceptions to the rule. Martin said the board would have to tell people such as Dr. Henry Lee – the former state medical examiner who spoke at the Fields Memorial School in February and showed up in a limousine – to keep their vehicles off school property in the future.