Students can't walk in graduation for drinking

May 22, 2012 2:19:37 PM PDT
Several seniors from Father Judge High School in Northeast Philadelphia won't be celebrating graduation with their classmates because they allegedly got drunk before the school prom.

"We just can't look the other way on something like this," said the Rev. James Dalton, principal of Father Judge High School.

Father Dalton is talking about the revelation that several of his students were caught drinking alcohol inside the bus that was taking them to their senior prom, which took place at the Camden Aquarium earlier this month.

Father Dalton says it's bad enough that the teenagers are underage, but they also signed a contract with the school agreeing not to drink alcohol before or during school related activities, including the senior prom.

That agreement also spells out the consequences if the terms are violated.

Now, the 19 seniors involved have been suspended from school, are no longer allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities - including sports - and, while they will graduate with their class, they are banned from taking part in their own graduation ceremonies.

Father Dalton says a few of the parents are appealing the punishment, but the school is not budging on this one.

"It's something we take very seriously. It is part of the educational process for students to understand that there are boundaries. Once those boundaries are crossed we have to take appropriate action," said Father Dalton.

Action News has also learned that the bus was equipped with a surveillance camera that captured video of the scene onboard. The video also allegedly revealed that one teenager threw a bottle from a window as they travelled down I-95.

We spoke with some Father Judge parents, some of whom think the punishment is too harsh. The vast majority, however, agreed with how this is being handled.

"I have to agree with the church. They signed the paper, so no graduation, either," said Delores Seeger.

"You sign a contract, you are liable," said Tom Garrison. "That's too bad. You did something wrong and you should pay for it.

Meantime, we are told there were students from other Philadelphia Catholic schools, including St. Hubert's and Nazareth Academy High, who were on that bus and drinking.

Officials from those schools say they are working to confirm that information before punishments are doled out.