Originally created 11/16/00

Judge upholds school penalties



BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A Glynn County judge ruled Tuesday that seven Glynn Academy students accused of drinking alcohol on a privately chartered bus taking them to a school function must serve their 10-day suspensions from school.

Superior Court Judge A. Blenn Taylor Jr. denied an extension of a restraining order that would have stayed the suspension, saying to do so would do "potential damage to discipline at the school."

The parents and students who attended the hearing left immediately after and could not be reached for comment.

The suspensions stem from a homecoming dance Oct. 14 at Jekyll Island Convention Center where 57 youths riding on a private chartered bus were accused of drinking alcohol. School officials said they later determined 33 students had consumed alcohol on the bus, which was rented by a student.

Two of the students and their parents filed the class-action complaint seeking to halt all the suspensions. The two youths denied drinking alcohol, according to court documents, and argued the suspensions were imposed unfairly and violated their rights to due process under school disciplinary procedures.

Glynn Academy students Jessica A. Tollison, 17, and Stacy L. Patrick, 15, filed the class-action complaint on behalf of themselves and the 31 other students.

Their parents - Hugh Kenneth Tollison Jr. and Donna S. Rountree, and R. Michael Patrick and Jeannine Patrick - joined the suit as plaintiffs.

Jessica and Stacy "did not consume any alcoholic beverage or any drug" at the homecoming dance, "nor have they ever admitted to having done so," the complaint stated. There was no indication there was illegal drug use by any of the students implicated.

The suspensions, the teenagers argued in the complaint, could harm their academic standing and chances at scholarships. Originally, the suit sought to represent all the suspended students. However, it was amended prior to the hearing to represent only seven students.

School Superintendent Robert Winter said Tuesday the school would not begin the suspensions immediately. The other 26 students were offered a reduced suspension in exchange for attending intensive alcohol abuse prevention training classes, he said. The reduction was five days off-school suspension, three days in-school suspension and two days attendance at Saturday school.