Administrators at a Rhode Island high school have been accused of coddling underage drinkers, angering parents and some students.
As many as 15 students at Cumberland High School were caught drinking at last weekend's prom. Police found a party bus filled with giant bottles of vodka and flasks of liquor. Other students attending the prom witnessed kids smuggling booze into the dance in hairspray bottles and lotion containers.
The boozed-up students were suspended from school for an entire week - the same week that senior's were scheduled to take final exams. Administrators decided to open the school on Saturday so the kids could take makeup exams - allowing them to graduate with their classmates.
That decision - sparked an angry outcry from the community at a recent meeting of the Cumberland School Committee. Some parents said it sends the wrong message to students who actually obeyed the rules.
"Why are they being allowed to walk across and get their diplomas," one parent asked the committee.
Others said the students broke the law and should suffer the consequences. "That was their choice when they decided to strap booze to their legs and put it into lotion bottles and hairspray bottles."
Many students agreed with the adults.
"I don't believe people who show up intoxicated at school functions or drink at school functions deserve the same once in a lifetime ceremony that I do," one student told school officials.
Said another teenager, "They are letting them bend the rules and it's just wrong."
School superintendent Donna Morelle defended the punishments.
"At this time each student has received a due process hearing with the school administration. A number of these students and their families have appealed the outcome," she wrote in a statement to NBC 10.
In response to the outrage, committee members said the ultimate decision was made by the school's administration.
"Then we need a new administration," one parents shouted.