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PA 3rd grade teacher hosting teen party

Original post made by Incredulous Paly Parent, Palo Alto High School, on Oct 30, 2006

I am dumbfounded that a Palo Alto elementary school teacher and her husband would allow alcohol to be served to Paly students at their home and then allow them to get wasted. After all this community has gone through with teen drinking, including a recent death of a Gunn student, I am livid that this has happened. THANK YOU to the Palo Alto Police for not only breaking this party up but for citing the parents. Now what can/will the school district do? And please don't tell me that teens drinking under supervision is a proper way to manage teen drinking. This party proves that to be a fallacy, if the police report is anywhere near accurate.

Comments (210)

Posted by Pat
a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2006 at 5:51 pm

If I am not mistaken, Palo Alto Police arrested another palo alto teacher or teachers aide last year for hosting a party where a teenager was in a DUI accident....

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 30, 2006 at 5:57 pm

Citing is NOT enough. The third grade teacher must be let go. She has demonstrated lack of common sense as well as common decency to the utmost. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2006 at 6:53 pm

Might I suggest that we wait to hear what actually happened? I have had parties where I have had to ask 'guests' to leave because they walked in the door, uninvited. These 'guests' were underage and clearly intoxicated. They were intoxicated when they arrived. I did not serve them any alcohol, in fact they brought their own bottles of Jack Daniels, yet had the police been called and arrived at that point they may have concluded that I had served them. Perhaps you would have been accusing me in exactly the same way. You would have been very wrong.

I do not know what happened and I for one, will wait to hear before I pass judgement.

Posted by Parent of former Palo Verde student
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2006 at 7:55 pm

I smell a witch hunt. Why is it such fun for some to cast stones and vilify others before all of the facts are known? Why not take the high road, wait for the facts, and assume the parties in question are innocent until proven guilty? What does it cost you to be empathetic and wait for the true story to come out? Don't be so eager to see someone crash and burn. I can see your eyes gleaming with judgmental delight through cyberspace.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2006 at 8:46 pm

For those defending this teacher, have you actually read the article? It clearly states that Swagerty has been cited for HOSTING the party, that beer and liquor were "strewn throughout the home," and that most teens had driven to the home and would have DUI'ed had police not intervened. What more evidence do you need?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online]

Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:09 pm

Midtown Resident is a registered user.

I know Dick and Lisa personally and they are two of the most wonderful people ever to grace this community with their presence and contributions.
My daughter was a student in Lisa's class and I've come to know what an incredible teacher and human being she is first hand.
The sensational and (what will surely prove to be largely untrue) reporting of this incident smacks of muckraking yellow journalism and is to be despised by right thinking people of conscience.
Palo Alto parents: get a grip.
Let the facts come out before you pull your tired, sad, indignant Palo Alto parent act. You only serve to perpetuate the stereotypical image you deserve.
How about modeling the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" to your kids and your community as these allegations are ultimately adjudicated?
Now there's a novel thought.
Your rush to judgement is shameful.

Posted by sensational reporting?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:10 pm

Shame on the Weekly for publishing the names of the alleged perpetrators when so little is known. Sure it excites some readers to learn about the possible wrongdoings of two community figures and to read that "arriving officers were shocked." But what if there is more to the story, as an earlier poster suggested? What if the alleged perpetrators turn out to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? What then? It is irresponsible to link their names to such a sensational event when the only information of their involvement reported is that they were "supervising."

Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:15 pm

Anyone who knows Lisa Swagerty knows that she is a popular, trustworthy teacher. We do not know the facts of the case here. What the media says, the police citation indicates, and the facts of the case show are all irrelevant until more details are known. Hosting a party is not the same as a party happening in the home without consent, and these days a get together of high school students can quickly escalate to a large number of partying teenagers, already intoxicated bringing their own alcohol by word of cell phone, myspace, or anything else. I personally doubt that Mrs. Swagerty's involvement in this was her doing and I would like to see our school community giving her the benefit of the doubt and our full support until such time as the real evidence proves otherwise.

Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Midtown Resident is a registered user.

To Shocked Parent.
"What more evidence do you need" you ask?
How about more than an article written by some cyberspace "journalist" hack who wants to sensationalize and deliver a titilating headline?
That, I submit to you, is most certainly not "evidence".

Posted by John
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:37 pm

Well, the San Francisco Chronicle picked up the story, too.

If she hosted that party, she should lose her teaching job, period.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:47 pm

Don't blame Palo Alto Online or Weekly for reporting an incident that took place at the home of Swagerty. Ask yourself this question: if you as parents are home, would it be possible for a bunch of teens to show up and start drinking without your knowledge? How big is her home that she had no clue a wild party was going on? Don't forget the police were tipped off by LOUD PARTY at 10:30PM. Obviously, it must have been too loud for some neighbors and yet wasn't a bother to Swagerty? C'mon, folks, this is an open and shut case or the police wouldn't have cited the couple at the spot!

Posted by Shock_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:53 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:59 pm

This isn't a complicated case. I have no doubt that Ms. Swagerty is a fine teacher and well liked at Palo Verde. But the police have no reason to have misstated what was going on, and if the parents had welcomed the arrival of the police to break up a party that had simply arrived on their doorstep I can't imagine they would have been cited. And to blame Palo Alto Online for reporting the story and naming the people cited is crazy. People must be accountable for their actions. It's fine that some people that know them are defending them, but as we know from other cases (Bill Giardano, for example) there are always people that simply cannot accept that someone they trusted could have violated that trust.

I love my teenage son, but if he were brought home by the police after such an incident my response wouldn't be to blame the messenger. It would be to deal with why my son had made the choices that he did and determine the proper consequences. The same should apply to the people that allowed this party to take place. What in the world were they thinking?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 30, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Here is link to the story posted an hour ago on SF Gate:

Web Link

Posted by David Cohen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Let me add my voice to those calling for restraint and caution in our reactions to this situation. I trust we can all recall some incidents in which a media report and/or a police report missed some important facts that came to light later. Those of us who have been on the "inside" of a media story know that especially well. No one on this message board has all the facts. Anyone would deserve the basic respect of "innocent until proven guilty," and when it's involving someone well-known and respected in our community for years, I think caution is even more essential before casting aspersions on the people involved.

"Shocked Parent" - I invite you in particular to tone it down. You assume many facts about who knew what, when they knew it, and what they did (or didn't do) about it. One post above has already described how the appearances could be misleading. I would offer another possible scenario - that even if the party did indeed start in the house, the parents may not have been home when it started, or aware that anything was amiss. If they arrived while it was going on and they were in the process of booting the kids out, that would also explain the scene described at the exterior of the house. There may be legal cause to cite the homeowners for "hosting" the party, even if the homeowners weren't "hosting" in the traditional sense.

Posted by David Cohen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2006 at 10:08 pm

-- and nothing in the SF Gate article provides evidence, or even a hint of evidence, about what the parents knew, when they knew it, or what they may have been doing. All of the details describe what teens did and where.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2006 at 10:37 pm

OK, David Cohen, the police were quoted in both stories. Here's an actual quote from the Chronicle: Palo Alto Police Officer Max Nielepko "What surprised us was that both parents were actually home and theoretically supervising the party. It sounds like they were well aware of what was occurring and at least to some degree they were condoning or allowing this."

Here's a question to you. Is there any reason for Officer Nielepko to make up a statement like this, if not based on first-hand information? Lest people are confused, we are not dealing with a rumor or a cyber fantasy story here. We are dealing with a media report of an incident resulting in a misdemeanor citation handed out by an officer of the law at the scene!

Also, if the couple had pleaded their innocence, or the students had come forward afterwards (Saturday incident, Monday story - plenty of time in between) to clear the couple of any responsibility, do you not think the media or the police would have picked it up by now?

Posted by learning the lesson, not condemning
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 30, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Friends --
Rather than rushing to condemn or defending the character of the individual parents, let us focus on a much larger problem in this community -- teen parties focused on drinking, every weekend. Whatever the specifics of this case, MANY of these parties do take place in homes where parents have the mistaken concept that it's safer that way.

So let's allow the legal system to deal with whether or not the parents in this case are guilty as charged. But let's not continue to play ostrich about the problem here. Two Palo Alto teenagers have died in two years due to drinking and driving. There's a culture of "kids will be kids" and tolerance of binge drinking that is putting many teenagers' future at risk.

We all want to be "cool" parents and it's definitely not cool to tell your teens that not only can they not have the booze at your house, but that there won't be any uninvited guests, or people arriving with open or closed containers --- and you're going to be the heavy if the agreed-upon rules are not followed. But that's what we have to do if we really love our kids and want to help them grow up to be all they can be.

See the two links below for some sobering info. Pun intended.

A Parent's Guide to Teen Parties (Crystal Springs Parent Assn, 2002)
Web Link

Parents, Teens and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix
"Underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes," states Robert Wood Johnson vice president Nancy Kaufman. "It also contributes to suicides, homicides, and fatal injuries, and is a factor in sexual assaults and date rapes."

The mixed messages that parents send when they "bargain" with teens and allow them to drink at home may actually be to blame for excessive teen drinking. Consider these disturbing trends:

* A 1993 study of 15,000 students by the Minnesota-based Johnson Institute, which fights alcohol use at school and at work, showed that permissiveness at home affects adolescent choices more than peer pressure.
* Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) surveys estimate that when parents "bargain" with their kids and let them drink as long as they promise not to drive, teens are more likely to drive after drinking or be in a car with someone who is drinking.
* The University of Minnesota's School of Public Health found that teens whose parents or friends' parents provided alcohol for parties were more likely to drink, get into traffic crashes, get involved in violence, and participate in thefts.

Then there's also the sticky problem of setting a bad example for teens who want to do the right thing. "Some kids don't want to drink," says 18-year-old Courtney Michna. "They want an out and their parents provide a good excuse. If kids say 'Want some?' and they say, 'No, my parents will kill me,' most kids say, 'OK, that's cool, there's more for me!' But if parents are saying 'Go ahead, it's perfectly fine to drink,' then what out do kids have?"

Kendrick goes a step further. "Parent-sponsored drunk-fests make it harder for the kids who don't drink and for parents who won't let their kids drink. It's almost an inherent challenge that these parents lay down by saying, 'I'm sponsoring this because I think your teen is mature enough to drink responsibly.' A teen who doesn't drink or whose parents say it's wrong thinks, "What's wrong with me? Am I the only one who feels this way?" But Kendrick believes there is a huge difference between "kids experimenting with alcohol and kids drinking with adult approval."

Debby Hutter, a mother of four adolescents, agrees with Kendrick's assessment. "I feel like I would be ostracized if I said my daughters couldn't go to a prom or graduation party because there was drinking going on. My daughters say to me, 'Mom. You just don't get it.' But I don't get how parents--even if they take away the car keys--can justify serving 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds beer. Kids make bad choices, but what can you do when parents facilitate those choices? It's totally disgusting to watch these kids get drunk!"

Full article:
Web Link

Posted by Eric Rosenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2006 at 12:03 am

What's the parents story. We should be open minded and get all the facts before rushing to a judgement.

I like our police department and every officer I've ever met I liked. However--they are wrong at times because of imcomplete training in the laws they are asked to enforce. They mean well, but they do get it wrong sometimes or over react.

Posted by Get a Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 31, 2006 at 12:27 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] There has only been a citation; there is no proven guilt. What kind of jungle justice are you modeling for your kids?

That said, let's let the facts come out. Also, it's not cool for ANY newspaper to be publishing the names of people who are cited or arrested BEFORE they're shown to be guilty. How many reputations has that practiced ruined, even AFTER the person cited or arrested was found to be innocent? Usually, there's a note on page 19, and that's the end of the newspaper's responsibility.

Last, I have seen MANY teen parties in this city. Some of those parties are basically "flash mobs" that organize via text messaging - a party can be quite sedate, and then change demeanor within MINUTES. I've seen this happen more than once.

Someone can be monitoring a party that begins quite sedately, there's a slow buildup of noise. Maybe the party host is working on email and checking out the party from time to time. Suddenly, 3-4 people who have been partying elsewhere arrive; they call others from outside, even before they enter the house; they go inside to use the bathroom, others arrive - the noise builds slowly, steadily outside, and before you know it there's a crowd in the street and someone calls the cops.

I have seen this happen at least two dozen times at nearby homes that have teenagers, or house incoming Stanford freshman.

Incidentally, I've twice intervened to let parents know that the party was roaring outside, and they always seemed genuinely surprised. A slow buildup of noise becomes inperceptible for someone hosting a party, or attending a party. It's normal.

That said, teen drinking IS a problem, and should NOT be tolerated. Any teen found with alchohol should be cited as well.

As far as the persons who hosted the party go, let this go until absolute proof of guilt is shown, instead of sullying someone who may herself have been the victim of a series of actions that multiplied faster than she would have imagined.

Posted by Mary Gould
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2006 at 7:26 am

I am appalled that the teacher involved was back at school teaching on Monday morning. We as a community need to speak out about teen drinking with vigor! Parents should be more than cited, they should be jailed! This has been going on for too long without change. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 7:54 am

This article in the Mercury Web Link

has this quote from one of the parents:

He said the hostess's parents did not immediately appear when officers arrived. When the couple emerged, ``They were kind of surprised that we were surprised,'' Ryan said. ``They said, `What's the big deal? We'd rather have them party at home where it's safe.' That's what befuddled us.''

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:16 am

I too am appalled by the lack of proper administrative action. At the least, Swagerty should be suspended (with pay) until the district decides if there is cause to terminate her.

Some people repeat ad nauseam the legal loophole (innocent till proven guilty) that she is probably now trying her best to slip through. True, a powerful lawyer might be capable of making a hole big enough for her. But do we not want our kids to learn from someone who can be held to a much higher standard?

She was there. There was a lot of booze. The party was getting wild. And she didn't know what was going on? Ask yourself this question again: if you as parents are home, would it be possible for a bunch of teens to show up and start drinking without your knowledge?

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:27 am

This is hilarious - did the police arrest someone or not? I agree you are innocent until proven guilty, but it is certainly newsworthy to report these arrests in our local community! Underage drinking and drunk driving are major concerns and this was on a big scale.
I think the kids should have been arrested, too. Isn't underage drinking illegal? Isn't there a severe penalty from the DMV for drinking underage when you are in the first year of holding your driver's license? Why do we have these laws and rules if they won't be enforced? According to what I've read today in the P.A. Daily about this party, ..."approximately 75 teenagers, many of whom had been drinking and were planning to drive home." I find it beyond the realm of believability that these adults had no clue what was going on in their home and apparently the police agree.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:28 am

I shouldn't say the drunk driving was on a major scale, but it could have been if the party had not been broken up by police.

Posted by David Cohen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:51 am

another Paly parent - NO, there was no arrest, it was a misdemeanor citation.

Shocked Parent - You think "innoecent until proven guilty" is a loophole?! It is the most basic legal right we have.

Yes, I believe the police officer's statement, but it doesn't include information like: - how long had the parents been home? - What did they know? - When did they know it? - What exactly were they doing and saying at various points in the timeline? The officer has some thoughts about what was "theoretically" happening. That's why I think we should just settle down here.

And no, I don't believe that the lack of public statements by others who were there should be construed as further evidence of guilt. That's a huge leap to make.

I am not condoning teen drinking, nor would I condone a permissive approach by parents in general. But I hate to see the rush to judge and condemn people based on limited information, especially when done anonymously and with such vitriol.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:55 am

Is this setting a precedent where other other underage teen drinkers will not be cited in this city? Why do we have laws?

Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 9:07 am


According to PO Dan Ryan (quoted in the Mercury) one of the parents said: "What's the big deal? We'd rather have them party at home where it's safe."

Isn't that is enough to indicate that the parents did know what was going on and it wasn't just some teenagers showing up on their doorstep drunk?

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 9:34 am

David Cohen, attorneys often find technical loopholes to get their clients off the hook. O.J. is scot-free thanks to his powerful attorneys. This I'm sure is not what our forefathers had in mind when allowing for innocence until proven guilty.

I would further remind you that the couple need not be found guilty legally in this situation to be liable for civil litigations, if one of the drunken teens were involved in some kind of accident with injuries/deaths. That is the seriousness of the incident that you are trying to defend. Luckily, some neighbors got more worried than Swagerty and her husband and the police intervened. At least we have police statements and media reports to go on to demand suspension of Swagerty. What do you have? Just some technical loopholes that might be available for the couple to jump through. Judging from their refusal to return phone calls from the media, they are probably busy talking to some big-time attorneys.

Palo Alto Officer Ryan's statement sums it up nicely. ``One girl was passed out on the floor upstairs, and in a couple of rooms, kids had vomited. The house was pretty much trashed,'' Ryan said.

Swagerty must have been holed up in a soundproof closet in some remote bedroom in what must be a big palace.

Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 9:38 am

Yes, By all means, lets try and convict them in the newspapers. Thats why we will be voting next week. Honestly, this is why we have a government and why we pay taxes. The newspapers can get the facts wrong and the police can and do get the facts wrong and sometimes they even represent the facts inaccurately. That is why we have courts, investigations and due process. We all have rights, even people who *might* have done something like this.

Posted by Palo Alto parent of 2 teens
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2006 at 9:50 am

I would like to say thank you to the Palo Alto police for ensuring that every child that drove away from that party was sober.

Posted by community_member
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 9:51 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] Shocked_parent, Do you really know what happened that night? Were you there? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] Take "Leslie's" advice and wait until you have the whole story, not just pieces of it. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by curious
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2006 at 9:56 am

You probably won't hear anything from the parents named in the article - their attorney would advise them not to make any statements until any pending criminal & civil actions are done with.

If I allowed my kid to go to a party that has "parental supervision", I would expect the parents supervising that party to not allow alcohol, and to kick out anyone who bought alcohol. Based on the description from the officers quoted in several of the news articles, its hard to believe that the parents didn't know what was happening at their house. If they told the kids that were drinking to leave (or if the kids who did drink were too intoxicated-call their parents), then that would put the who incident in a different light; but if they condoned what was going on, then that would be very poor judgement.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:00 am

I can't believe what I am reading here. "The newspapers can get the facts wrong...the police can and do get the facts wrong..." Why don't you just flat out say" "The newspapers are irresponsible and the police can't tell a fact from fiction."

The facts are loud and clear: Swagerty was home while a wild drinking party was going on. The house was trashed (don't tell me the police can't tell if a house has been trashed) and many teens were inebriated (don't tell me the police can't tell - they used breathalyser tests.) And pray don't tell me that you as a parent wouldn't know if teens are drinking in your house. Watch out, the next binge party will be held at your house under your very nose!!!

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:12 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by David Cohen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:20 am

No one here likes what happened, no one is absolving parents of responsibility, and no one is saying the police are lying. It's just that any thinking person would realize that there's more to the story that we don't know, and until we know, if we ever do, it would be prudent and respectful not to drag people's names through the mud by assuming that a few facts tell the whole story.

Just a little respect, self-restraint... treat others as you would like to be treated?

p.s. to "Shocked" - O.J. Simpson... that's your response? I'm shaking my head in wonder at that one. It's not even an example of what you think it's an example of. (That is, he didn't get off on a loophole, he got off because the jury wasn't convinced, much to their shame). And Richard Nixon... wow, you're on a roll. Please - give your keyboard some rest while we reflect on that one.

Posted by Get A Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:33 am

Shocked Parent, Conflating this situation with the OJ Simpson case is a bit over the top, don't you think? Apparently, you refuse to consider that there may not be major culpability by those who were cited. It's getting old hearing you compare those cited to Richard Nixon and OJ Simpson, or worse. Might I suggest some perspective?

I find teen drinking parties reprehensible, as they put teens and those they might encounter on the roads, in danger.

That said, I have seen, as stated before, a party like the one described virtually "explode" with incoming kids within 10-15 minutes. Go look up "flash mobs" and inform yorself of how teens with nothing else to do can get themselves in trouble very, very fast. I have seen this at local parties both PA students and for Stanford freshman - - see my entry above.

It seems that you have a thing about wanting 'blood', and have a rather irrational anger directed toward those cited, without knowing what actually happened at that home. You are condemning w/o detailed knowledge.

ALL we know is that there were teens there, drinking. We know that the parents were surprised when confronted - either out of sheer lack of knowledge of how the party had quickly gotten out of control, or having been in their family room, watching a movie.

At most, this should be a lesson for any local parent to NOT permit alcohol on the premises, for minors. Further, EVERY ONE of the teens found drinking shuold be cited and have their driving licenses suspended. Why aren't you asking for that?

The localPA police should make it very clear - and use the schools to transmit the message - that alcohol possession by minors will be dealt with harshly, including those who enable said possession. Currently, that's not the way things are done here.

Last, if someone commits a misdemeanor, or is cited for a civil crime, or what is considered at the time a minor offense, that has NOTHING to do with their job, leave their job out of it.

Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:50 am

In general, misdemeanors shouldn't have an impact on your job. This case is slightly different however. Under the state education code, a school district can choose to suspend an employee who is cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which in this case, is the charge.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:25 am

How about the seeming hypocrisy of the schools (presumably)teaching our underage students not to drink liquor and having a teacher's home as the site of liquor drinking (that much has been established as a fact)? Makes it pretty tough for us responsible parents to be taken seriously by our children.

Posted by getalife
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:30 am

"What's the parents story. We should be open minded and get all the facts before rushing to a judgement."

Yeah, let's be open minded about what the parent's commented in defense to these "outright allegations." Oh, wait, the parent's did not wish to comment on the matter. Probably the newspapers and the police are wrong, because they are only human and everyone makes mistakes...right?...can you sense my sarcasm? I likfe how people are so eager to defend these parents. THE FACTS: the kids were there for a long period of time, hence the call for the party with kids drunk and vomiting, the response time of the police until their arrival. FACT: the parent's were home and said they were supervising the party. END OF STORY. Charge, contributing to the delinquincy of a minor.

IF the parents were not guilty, they would have shut the kids inside or called the police themselves for all of these drunks kids who just happened to be coming to their house for some reason. WOULD YOU ALLOW DRUNKEN TEENAGERS TO COME AND PUKE ALL OVER YOUR HOUSE AND DO NOTHING ABOUT IT? Be realistic, we all know what was happening here. It happens a lot of the time, this time they got caught. Thank you.

Posted by Enough of the Witch Hunt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:30 am

A teacher doesn't take vows to never ever make an error in judgment. Teachers are human, however they are subjected to a lifestyle that people believe should remain holier than any other. It is impossible to think that people (they are people) in this line of work will never make an error in their own PERSONAL life. Let this teacher and her family deal with their own issue.

If you want to give crazy examples, such as Richard Nixon, here is another:
Look at our own current President, he was a drug addict (among other things) and we trust and enable him to be a role model for our ENTIRE country. Where are your sanctimonious words for that? Or is that another community blog?

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:52 am

I'm not really interested in whatever drugs Bush may have taken years ago - but I can surely be expected to take an interest in reported current events in my own community, school community, and the activities of my teenagers'(plural)peers with regards to legal and illegal behavior.
This may have a huge effect on our lives right here in Palo Alto if more kids make poor choices that are in some fashion supported by adults. For one thing, it's really tragic when young lives are cut short from alcohol poisoning (frat type behavior) or car crashes, and these things really can happen. What if some of the partiers had driven out from this particular party while in a DUI state? They can't be experienced drivers.
Sad to say, the San Jose Mercury News' article concerning the citation of a local elementary level public school teacher by the police "...for allegedly contributing to the delinquency of minors..." IS newsworthy and relevant to Palo Altans.

Posted by Mother of Two
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:53 am

I am outrageous with the story and with some of the stuff that I have been reading here.

Teenagers were drinking… and some of them were driving! This is terrible! And if the parents are good people, honestly, I don’t care! I care about the safety of young people! The parents should be responsible for their actions and this must be a message for other parents as well… It is NOT ok for teenagers to drink, especially if they are driving back home! This is very serious!

I thank the media for letting the community knows about the citation. Even if the party had happened in a house of a parent that was not involved in the education - that would be newsworthy. But it is even more newsworthy because it happened in the house of an educator - and an educator from our community! The media is doing its job letting us know about the situation!

Posted by OJ Fan
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 31, 2006 at 12:44 pm

Maybe shocked parent can organize a community tarring and feathering of the teacher and her husband and then they can be run out of town, while shocked parent leads the cheering against them.
It is clear that our justice system, flawed that it may be, is not good enough for shocked parent--shoot first and ask questions later is more in keeping with his/her beliefs.

BTW, OJ was found not guilty by a jury of his peers based on them not believing he did it beyond a reasonable doubt--in other words in the eyes of our justice system he is innocent--so get over it everyone he did not do it.

Posted by Doing my Best Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 1:08 pm

I don't think many of you know how difficult it is being the parent of a teenager these days. If we want to allow our teens to have a good time, we must ask hundreds of questions to all involved, act like the police, search property, trust no one and ultimately do our best. If we fail, we are treated as criminals. The teen culture is such that there is a battle going on between established values and beating the system. We who try to give those teenagers time to be young and enjoy life in a safe environment are losing the battle all the time. There is a teen culture out there that is always trying to bend the rules, shock the adult world and spoil things for their peers. It doesn't matter how hard we try as parents, once the word gets out there - party at such and such - the hoards appear from nowhere. My question is this, for all those blaming the hosts of the party, where are all the other parents of the teens involved in all this. Did they know where their children were? Did they know their children were going to a party they may not have been invited to?
Did they know they had alcohol in their possession (Don't tell me that all the alcohol in this case came from one source)? Do they know if their teenage drivers are out drinking and driving? This is not one set of parents' fault. It is the fault of all the uninvited guests who turned up on the doorstep and their parents. One set of parents are taking the rap here for the mistakes of many. And if you don't believe me, then you have no idea what it is like being the parent of a teen today. And for those of you elementary parents condemning the hosts' parents, good luck in the future, because you will be in this difficult situation before you know it.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Doing my Best Parent, you need to do better than to introduce conjecture as fact. Whereas those of us looking for school district action are basing on facts already known from media reports, you want us to accept without any evidence whatsoever that the teens showed up uninvited with beer, vodka and tequila? Maybe you should read the media coverage more carefully. It was a Halloween party hosted by the couple's daughter, presumably with their full consent. You make it sound like the daughter has terrible friends who invite their own friends without asking the host? Not only that, they all decided to bring booze to the house to get wasted together? And the daughter let them all in? Or they let themselves in but the daughter did nothing to stop? And when drinking started, the daughter didn't run to her parents as instructed (as a condition of the party)? Wow!

Even if that was the case, the couple were there and should have been pro-active in making sure that nothing hanky-panky was going on. I mean why hang around the house if they had no desire or the courage to supervise? It is precisely their inaction that had contributed to the delinquency of those teens - exactly the police charge.

Regardless of the exact circumstances surrounding the drinking party, or whether the teacher is proven guilty as charged, the school district must take some immediate action to determine whether this teacher is fit to be entrusted with today's third graders, who will be tomorrow's teens soon enough.

Posted by Mother of Two
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:01 pm

Doing my Best Parent, I would like to know the answers to your questions! I would love to hear from the parents of the teenagers that were in the party!!!

But I still think that, in any case, this is NOT a situation where people can overlook the responsibility that lies on the parent that has decided to host the party.

According to the news, there were alcohols being served in the house. And it is WRONG and AGAINST THE LAW to serve alcohol to teenagers! And, like you mentioned, maybe some kids were not invited, and maybe they also brought alcohol… but there must be kids that have been invited and kids that did not bring alcohol, and kids that the parents knew where they were, and those kids were exposed to all that! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online]

Posted by Margaret
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:08 pm

To Shocked Parent: Come out from behind your perceived anonymity and maybe you'll reveal a bit of humanity. Would your vitriol be as potent if you had to stand up and be held to account for your words?

Nothing is ever black and white, and some mindful perspective would serve us all well to employ.

Posted by David Cohen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:12 pm

Shocked Parent -

You have repeatedly made assumptions and engaged in conjecture in this thread, taking the few details from the media and extrapolating from there without any basis. To criticize others for doing the same seems hypocritical. It would also be wise of you not to confuse media reports with facts. When reporters and police do a good job, there's a high correlation of course, but they are not the same thing as you seem to believe. And some facts in the absence of others (that are still unknown) can seriously distort the picture. Why not wait for more info on this? What's your hurry to see heads roll?

But since you trust the media, let's look at this:

Shocked Parent: (sarcastically) " Not only that, they all decided to bring booze to the house to get wasted together?"

San Jose Mercury News: "Police believe the teens brought the alcohol to the party, [Officer] Ryan said."

Posted by Doing my Best Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:23 pm

Shocked Parent -

"Facts already known from MEDIA REPORTS"

Enough Said

Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:38 pm

I agree with another Paly parent that "the kids should have been arrested, too." What's the message we are sending to kids in Palo Alto when 75 students are simply allowed to go home. The reality is that those kids would have been drinking somewhere that evening. Until there are consequences for "our" high school students that gets reflected on their college applications you won't begin to see changes in their behavior or their parents supervision.

Posted by Disgusted by you people
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2006 at 2:48 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by Sober mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:04 pm

Geez - what really gets me is that teen drinking has become so "normal" that it doesn't even seem to be considered a crime anymore! Are those old laws about "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" no longer in effect? Is it no longer illegal for teens/under 21's to drink? It isn't just bad judgement people, IT"S THE LAW!!! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Mom
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:28 pm

I find it kind of interesting, that, while the Weekly has given us all this great opportunity to express ourselves, and it is a gift, that there is one group of people remembering how wonderful it was to grow up in Palo Alto, and it was, that there is another group of people laying blame on everyone but themselves.

High school Kids are young adults, and should accept responsibility for their own actions. If that means getting arrested for drinking, not being able to drive for a year or more, not getting into their first choice college because of it,(oh, the horror), then that's what happens.

This is not the Palo Alto of old. Parents should raise their children to be responsible, and beyond that, should be aware of what their kids are up to.

As somone else suggested, tar and feathering is a choice. I do not feel perfect enough to be involved in that. Are you?

Posted by Leigh Klotz
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:48 pm

As a parent of a child currently in Mrs. Swaggerty's class, I urge everyone to please take a breath and time for a measured response.

My most urgent concern is for the third-graders, who are the ones who will be most affected by anything that happens now. They are the ones most likely to be hurt by the absolutism and armchair speculation I've seen in this community forum.

I sincerely hope that the spectacle surrounding these events does not rise to the levels expressed above, and that continuity is preserved in Mrs. Swaggerty's classroom.

While some of you may be new to Internet forums, I assure you the third graders are not; and anything and everything you say here will get to them, and fairly quickly.

a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:48 pm

Every family has their issues, the bottom line is one of those kids could have lost their lives that night drinking and driving. I'am sure that teacher is wonderful in the classroom and the father is a great guy, bottom line is for whatever reason booze was being served in the house to minors whether parents knew or not!!!! (seems like they did but that will come out in the wash) PAUSD will take care of the rest. If you are parents out there, in spite of all being said on here, WOULD YOU BE OKAY WITH YOUR CHILD BEING AT THIS PARTY?
***I know if I was a parent when police arrived on scene I would have been actively kicking kids out of party as if I did not know what was going on and had just gotten home which would have been true. Police reports defintely report that parents acted as if nothing was wrong and party was condoned. If police reports are false this also will come out and this whole thing will get very, very,ugly and lawsuits will fly!!!! PAUSD Teacher Please do not bring up GIORDANO, man has been through enough with more to go through rest of life!!! pausd teacher

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by Leigh Klotz
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 3:59 pm

Dear Just A Thought in Palo Alto Hills: Since nobody else seems to be using their names it's hard to tell who you're asking. But if you were in fact talking to me, my child has in fact been at a party at Mrs. Swaggerty's house, and I arrived at the end of the party. I saw nothing untoward going on, the guests were polite, and the house was in great shape. I suspect the reported teen party was different, but my concerns about absolutism and measured responses, and attention to the schoolchildren remains. Thank you.

a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 31, 2006 at 4:18 pm

Hi Leigh,
I'am in no way bashing the parents here and I'am sure you have been at a nice, civil party by the parents before, but we are talking about THIS party where students were drinking booze and according to FACTUAL police reports the parents knew about it. If police are not correct they have major, major problems on their hands, I would think. Enough said on my part out of respect for students. Sorry if I offended you

Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Parents out there, Here is a reality check from someone who was in high school not that long ago. The best place to get your booze is from the house that ya live in... SO, Yes, it is true that kids were drinking. Did the hosts provide the alcohol? NO. Are kids drinking anyways? REALITY? YES! And I can bet a good sum that some of the drinks came from their very own houses, right under their parents' noses. Kids showed up to that party already drunk. Did the hosts condone it? NO. It is so sad to see a community turn their noses up at one of their own. You think these kids are angels? I see your children at Paly, Gunn, Jordan, Terman, JLS on MYSPACE ALL THE TIME... talking about sex, drugs, and drinking. You blame this teacher and her husband? We'd all love someone to blame, it seems. Truth is, parents should be more than "UPSET" when they are called to pick up their kids from a party that THEY brought the alcohol to. Take away their cell phones and their cars, people. You give your privileged kids too much as it is. They're growing up too fast, and whose fault is that?

Posted by Brazilian Mother
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 31, 2006 at 4:35 pm

I grew up in Brazil, a country were teenagers are allow to drink. And I attended many parties as a teenager were drinking was ok. But, in Brazil the minimum age to get a drivers license is 18, and most people only start driving when they are in their 20’s. Most Brazilians live at home with their parents until they graduate from college, and having parents driving young adults to parties is the most common thing. So, my mom or my friends’ moms, used to take my friends and I to parties.

Anyways, my point is: If there was drinking with no driving involved, this situation would not be so bad. But some of those kids were driving, and because of that this has became, IMO, a very serious issue.

Also I cannot imagine my mom, or my friends’ moms in Brazil, again, where drinking is allowed, to let young people get drunk in their house! Allowing drinking is one think, allowing kids to get drunk is another. I remember many episodes where someone was starting to get drunk, and a parent would immediately do something about it. I don’t ever recall a time that I drank as a teenager to the point I was drunk. That was never the point. We just learned to drink in an early age… and I never drank with the objective of get drunk, what I think a lot of the American kids do.

I would be worry sick if my teenager daughter were to have friends drinking in my house… If this ever happen, I think I would have to drive the kid back home or call their parents! Even if this kid was not an ‘invited’ person… I would never allow a drunk teenager in my home. Would you???

Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2006 at 4:40 pm

According to the law... those kids should have been given DUI's and Drunk in Publics and Drinking under the age charges. Put that on their records. If we're going to cast the blame, shouldn't they receive part of it? No, of course not. This is a witch hunt. I highly doubt that the parents that threw this party were out supervising every minute. They were trying to trust their child and her friends, I guess that's a new concept here. THEY were taken advantage of, opening their home to guests that abused that kind gesture. Responsibility is a fine line here... When do we make young adults, that will soon vote and fight in our wars, RESPONSIBLE for their own behavior and mistakes?

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 4:41 pm

My focus now is on the partying youth.
I always thought these are the messages to be delivered to our teens by parents and the school system at all levels:

#1 the law should be followed.

#2 the law should be applied equally to all.

Am I naive?
Some of us have teen children and we are attempting to parent them correctly in a myriad of ways, that includes making efforts to teach them to follow the law. I am known for saying if you don't like the law, you are welcome to work to change the law. So, to be mildly humorous, if anyone thinks 16-year olds should be chugging liquor legally, they are welcome to try to change the law. Good luck with that.

I have expressed a concern that the pass that police gave to this particular group of youth would not necessarily be given to others and this sends worrisome messages to our other local teens who are hearing/reading about/observing this exciting party story:

- it is odd, why wasn't the law followed and why didn't police take action against fleeing youth and youth on the scene.
- would I, the other local teens wonder, also be let go if I were in such a position (caught drunk at a similar party). Maybe I should take an exciting risk sometime.
BTW we will now be watching to be sure the law is applied equally if/when something like this happens in future. I don't see why one group of kids gets a pass when another group may have their futures impacted.
- maybe it's OK to do stuff like this (break the law)it'll be excused anyway so some laws are bendable
- There appears to have been a definite chance for a crime/accident/death here involving alcohol and cars and minors, are these risks now minimized in the minds of other teens since they don't appear to be taken seriously.

I have no idea what the teens who were at the party are thinking about this now (reflecting on their actions and the situation) and what their parents (those who know) are thinking, but I sure would LIKE to know. ARE they thinking "never again?"

Stay safe and live a long life. Please let others be safe, too.

Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2006 at 4:49 pm

Yeah, good point. If this party were to have happened in EAST Palo Alto, those kids would've all got cited, then the police would've belittled their parents and condemned them with comments about how they raise their children, and no one would care. Probably wouldn't even make the news and surely no one would sit around talking about it because, "That's what's expected of kids like that." Well, another reality check.... DRUGS and ALCOHOL cost MONEY. When i was in high school, it was the privileged kids that always had all three of those things.

a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 31, 2006 at 5:09 pm

One more comment,
I totally agree, if this party were in East Palo Alto a majority of those kids would have been cited, just the way it is, you do not mess with Palo Alto kids, to many lawyers and heavyweights kids might be involved: might not be politically correct to say on here but very true.
***Yes, I agree those kids should pay the price but the point keeps being missed in my eyes, according to POLICE FACTUAL reports, parents KNEW what was going on!!!

Posted by Parent of Teens
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 5:17 pm

As a parent of two teenagers, I am very glad that my children were not at this party. This is not to say that I don't trust them, their friends, or their friends' parents. The reason that I am glad they were not at this particular party is because their seems to have been some double standard and ignorance here. If my children were invited to a party I would check first with the parents what type of party it was, how it was to be supervised, would alcohol be served and if there was anything I could do to help. If I knew the parents and my above questions were answered to my satisfaction, then I would allow them to go, giving them a time to be home, or more likely, I would arrange to pick them up at a certain time. I think I would have trusted this particular party from the type of people the parents concerned appear to be. If then the party turned out to be something that it should not have been, I would have expected my children to leave or call me. I imagine that this party started off as one thing, but at some stage very quickly got out of hand before the parents concerned understood what was happening. They may have been totally unaware what was going on outside their home until the police arrived on the scene, have spent the majority of the time supervising the well behaved party going on inside the house. There is no evidence to say that the parents provided the alcohol, that this large number of teenagers were invited in the first place or even if this home had a history of "wild parties". I am glad that my children were not at the party, because I feel sure that they could easily have been and there but for the grace of God, go many truly good parents, trying to give their kids a good time.

Posted by Get a Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 31, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Interesting thread. It's established so far that we DON'T know about ultimate culpability in this case. Yes, the parents were hosting a party, and there was alcohol. The hosts were cited. We have no idea yet about their ultimate culpability; let's hope they learned a lesson.

The kids weren't cited - who not?? (BIG mistake); they should be retroactively cited, and be brought in for processing. Scare the hell out of them, and serve up some real consequences, like driving suspensions, etc.

The one thing that has continued to surprise me in all of this is how casual drinking has become with young teens WHO ARE DRIVING. If this isn't reason to put breathalyzer technology into cars, I don't know what is.

What I want to know is how did those kids get home, and what consequences they faced when they got there. This includes the host's daughter.

We have underage drinking laws for a reason.

This is all very tragic, because again we see a drug (alcohol) cuasing serious problems, overly permissive parents who mean well, but should know better (that includes the parents of the teens who were there)- and teenagers without a clue, drinking and driving. Thank god nobody was hurt.

Posted by Sober mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:50 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Posted by hush up
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:52 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] You don't know what you're talking about because you weren't there and the press probably just had a light news day and picked up on this. If you're a parent out there, go do yourself a favor and instead of blaming other parents, talk to your own children. Maybe parents should figure out why kids were there in the first place...

Posted by
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:40 pm

frankly, kids are going to be drinking no matter what. i know that my friends will go drink in an empty house or a remote park if worse comes to worse. then you've got kids driving from that park home. i think it's better to have parents there at least in some capability, in case anything were to go seriously wrong. secondly, to all you parents leading this witch hunt, take a good look at your own children. i can't tell you how many of my friends act like perfect children, while secretley partying hard and drinking extensively. I even have friends with fake i.d.'s of which the parents know nothing. it's time for a lot of these parents to leave the naive bubble in which they are living

Posted by Anti-censorship
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:50 pm

Looks like the hand of censorship is ridding VERY heavy here and you DARE not criticize the staff. Hello, Palo Alto Daily? Would you like to dish?

Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:30 pm

Is it really hard to see if your child is drinking a lot? Don't they smell like liquor and aren't they red-eyed and tired after a night of drinking? Sure, kids can hide a lot, but really this seems like too much denial. Especially since everyone knows drinking is a problem in high schools and colleges.
A party used to be an occasion to dress up, dance, flirt, talk, drink a glass of wine, meet boys, and have a grand time. Now "to party" means to get drunk. Really, too bad.

Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Nov 1, 2006 at 7:31 am

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

To Anti-censorship:
As anyone reading this thread can observe, posts reflecting all points of view are well represented, including those who criticize Palo Alto Online and the media. We have only removed those posts that were over the top in their disrespect to either other posters or to other people. For those that have trouble engaging in a respectful discussion while they anonymously post, feel free to find another venue. By the way, none of the posts removed were critical of Palo Alto Online or the Palo Alto Weekly. Such posts remain on the site as posted.

Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2006 at 8:01 am

if underage drinking had been going on in her house, she is responsible even if she didn't serve the drinks herself. an adult hosting underage kids is responsible for their behavior.if teens were consumming alcohol in her house she is guilty of gross neligence, to say the least. the danger is that intoxicated kids then exit the teacher's house, enter cars and sit behind the wheel. that sequence is responsible for many graves. personally, i hate teen drinking although i know it's far too common but i'm scared to death of teens (and adults) drinking and then driving.

Posted by A parent of teens
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2006 at 8:46 am

I must be some ignorant parent. I do know teens drink, I’m not that ignorant.

But --

My kids have asked to go to parties and I said OK “if I can call the parents”. Teens don’t like mom’s doing that. They may not like me until they have their own kids but I can live with that.

So I have called and asked the parents if they were going to be home during the party. If they said yes I let my kids go.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to ask the parents these questions ---

1. Are you going to let your child get drunk at the party? If so do you only have enough alcohol available for your child to get drunk?
2. Is your child the only one you are going to allow to get drunk? We all know it would have only taken 1 shot of tequila to ruin a teen’s life if they drove away from that party.
3. If you believe that your child is safer at home drinking than out somewhere else, what safety measures are you going to take for my child?
4. I know parties can get out of control, and kids can bring beer along with them but are you ever going to check on the kids to make sure that any child that drove to the party is not drinking?
5. Lastly – If you do check on the kids and find someone asleep on the floor – are you going to just assume the child is taking a nap?

Posted by Over-the-hill mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:05 am

To the Gunn parent who wrote:
"A party used to be an occasion to dress up, dance, flirt, talk, drink a glass of wine, meet boys, and have a grand time. Now "to party" means to get drunk. Really, too bad."

When and where did you grow up??? Let's face it, most of us parents of teenagers today were teens in the 70s. Here in the U.S., a party meant getting together to talk and laugh, and there was a lot of drinking and pot smoking. No dressing up, dancing, glasses of wine (glasses??), etc. Let's get real here and try to remember our youth.

I'm not condoning the parents who hosted last weekend's party, but I'm mystified by all the shocked voices out there who are appalled by kids drinking. It happens. What we should be concerned about is drinking to excess, and of course driving while drunk (or high--let's not forget to talk about that!!). If those parents had collected all the kids' car keys as they entered, we may not be so upset about this event.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:57 am

A parent of teens raises lots of key questions about the "workability" of parents assisting teen drinking parties with the goal of supposedly "helping" teens to be safer-
What is getting lost in this discussion - why do we have laws if they are not going to be respected/enforced?
BTW not all teens are getting drunk/high each weekend.

Posted by Yee Gads!
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2006 at 11:12 am

Typical Shallow Alto overreaction. Why are the parents of the kids too drunk to stand allowing their kids to behave this way? Right, you can't watch your kid 24/7, but you're ultimately responsible for their behavior, at least til they turn 18.

PAPD make mistakes just like other people, just like other agencies. The facts aren't all in. When they are, the "hosts" of the party will be dealt with accordingly.

Kids in Shallow Alto have a rep for drinking way too much way too much of the time. THAT is the issue that needs to ultimately be dealt with.

Posted by WithHeld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2006 at 12:52 pm

To those of you who are condemning posters for simply expressing their opinions, read the news accounts people. The father of the family residing in the party house reportedly told police, "They're going to drink, we'd rather have them doing it in our home where they're safe than in a car or elsewhere." He clearly knew what was taking place in his house.

What is truly unfortunate about being a teen these days is that your age group only seems to make the news when offensive incidents take place. It sure would be nice to know about teens who are making a difference. There are some, right?

Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 12:58 pm

According to another thread on this subject, one of the responding officers found his own daughter at the party. If this is true, then it would explain a lot.

Posted by Deep Alto
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 1, 2006 at 1:06 pm

Yee Gads, why do you call it "Shallow Alto?"

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2006 at 1:16 pm

It's interesting to see the two extremes here: on one side people are shocked and on the other side people are saying "nothing has been proved yet."

In reading the news reports (which are not always lies), it does sound like the parents were home throughout the party. And the police seem to have handled things with restraint by not citing the kids.

Seems to me that kids rule their parents these days and parents are afraid to put any restraints on kids. How would Swagerty -- or any parent -- feel if some kid at the party killed himself or someone else driving home after the party? How would they feel if a kid OD'd on alcohol in their home?

My friend's daughter was at a "supervised" party: the parents were upstairs. A 14-year old boy passed out after drinking. Fortunately, a girl called her parents and asked what she should do. Those parents called 911. The EMTs said the boy would have died within 30 minutes.

Get a clue, parents. It's better to have your kid alive than cool and popular.

Posted by Get A Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2006 at 2:01 pm

A few things: I think the Weekly'e policy of deleting certain comments is mostly OK. They even deleted one of mine, where I essentially told a poster to "calm down" by using a metaphor that is a bit more 'potent' than the words "calm down" - the words I used were "get a grip", and those wrods were directed at a certani poster. Now, in context, and directed at a person, those words are pretty strong, especially in an online forum, where facial expressiona and voice emoting are not perceived. Notice, that the words in themselves are not that bad, but when used as a rejoinder, can bring a discussion to a more heated place.

So, I understand the Weekly's motivation. That siad, I think *some* of the monitoring takes the "flavor" out of discussions. 'Spicy' can be fun, now and then...oh, well....

On another note: Teen drinking is a MAJOR problem. Alcohol is probably the most easily available mind-altering drug. It's everywhere. There's little that can be done to keep people from gaining access to alcohol, but there IS something we can do to make sure that teens and parents think twice before using it, and then driving.

The partial solution is a 100% NO TOLERANCE policy for teen drinking, with STIFF penalties that are appropriate to the violation - fro instance - TWO year suspended driver's license, with NO out. INcluded, would be compelled community service, working with families who suffer from the effects - social and otherwise - of alcohol abuse, or families who have been the victims of those who have abused alcohol. This would be a good start. We need to treat this for the disease that it is, as a disease, and at the same time limit accessibility to roads that ALL who drive drunk should NOT have.

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2006 at 3:02 pm

While reading all of this, it has occured to me that there are a great number of people living in Palo Alto who feel that they are so wonderful that they have the power to judge all others. It must be difficult to maintain that position. You would constantly have to work to make sure that you and your's never make any mistakes, small or large. Please look at yourself before you hurl your stuff at others.

Posted by Anon.
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 3:04 pm

I have to agree with "Get a Grip" that we need to wait for the facts and that all the teens should have been cited also - they need to learn there are real consequences for their actions. However, I will reserve judgement and certainly won't accept that the Weekly's version is, necessarily, the truth. I was involved in an incident last year which, when reported by the Weekly, bore little resemblence to what happened. The story was wildly exaggerated, only one side was told, and I was never asked about the facts. The police asked the Weekly not to print my name, but they did anyway with the result that we received hate mail. I was NEVER charged with anything, not even a misdemenor. By the way, I am a former Paly parent with a son and a daughter who graduated 2 and 3 years ago. They both told me they and a couple of their friends were the ONLY ones they knew who were completely straight edge - never drinking or drugging. It's definitely a big problem, but until the kids have real consequences, it won't get better.

Posted by Mom of a Paly senior
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2006 at 3:32 pm

My kid knows quite a few of the attendees at that party on Saturday. She was invited, but chose not to go because she knew there would be drinking going on, and she says she finds that stuff "boring" and "stupid." A couple of her pals invited her because they knew she wouldn't be drinking, and she would have been their designated driver.

Instead she attended a different party where she knew alcohol would not be a factor. There were 20-25 kids at the party she attended. According to her friends who were at the party, there were about 50 attending the midtown drinkfest, and 30 were rounded up and breathalyzed.

The child of a good friend was one of those who failed the breathalyzer. These parents have now been called three times that I know of to take their kid home from an event due to drinking. This kid has a car, and the parents have not revoked driving privileges! My friend's inability to set a clear message is causing a rift in our friendship. This kid's parents are part of the problem -- saying, "Well, kids are going to drink anyway, we can't stop it." This particular kid is a varsity athlete, and was at the party with quite a few teammates.

My daughter has said that she's considered unpopular because she doesn't think binge drinking is entertaining, and because her mean old mom (that would be me) does not allow people under 21 to drink. She has found a small group of fellow Paly kids who don't drink. These kids go to a movie on nights when there's a dance at Paly, since 3/4 of the dance attendees show up drunk. (I chaperoned a dance once just to see how many Paly kids really do show up drunk, and estimate that it was between 2/3 and 80% of the kids at the dance.)

Maybe we can't stop it, but we can send a message that binge drinking is NOT OK, and is not an expected part of being a teen in Palo Alto.

Posted by WithHeld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Dear Mom of a Paly Senior,

Your daughter sounds like a great kid!! I think you are already know that though! :)

Posted by Mother of Two
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 4:07 pm

WOW... 80% of the children attending a dance in their school are showing up drunk!!! This is outrageous!!! And Paly parents do say nothing about it? How about the school? And how about the Board??? This must be stopped!

My oldest child is at Jordan, and soon she will be in Paly... and I don't want to see my children, or any other child, in an environment where is ok for children to show up drunk! This is too serious of an issue. Kids need to be punished for that. And parents that believe this is an ok thing for children to do, they are putting not only their children on risk of being killed, but they are putting all of us in risk!

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2006 at 4:17 pm

It is interesting that a new/different version of what happened Saturday night has not emerged. I noted that both Mercury and Chronicle did an update today on the story without any new element or surprise. If I were wrongfully accused of something, I'd waste no time in setting the record straight. I'd want vindication. But that's just me.

Still, according to media accounts, judgment day is coming tomorrow when the PAUSD board is supposed to have a closed meeting to decide the teacher's fate. I hope the board will have all the facts necessary to make the correct decision.

I certainly do not want to see another hung jury where everyone walks off like this thing never happened, everyone returns to business as usual and restarting the ticking time bomb. Some people are responsible and must be held accountable for the event that took place. Thinking back to Garth Li's death, I'm still at a loss for words that no one has been brought to justice for getting him drunk and allowing him to drive off to his tragic end.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 4:26 pm

Dear Mother of Two-
Don't worry there are other kids at Paly who don't drink. There is another thread on PaloAltoOnline with a reference to a survey of kids indicating most DON'T drink. Those who say all kids drink are just trying to excuse the illegal behavior of some.

I think many Paly students have to find their social lives outside of Paly,though. Clearly you will have to continue to teach your child well, as many local parents don't care (and do give the keys to the bimmer to their kid). I am very worried about those students who drink and drive.

Returning to the subject of the hostess of the teen party - the Palo Verde teacher - if she can't control what goes on in her own home how can she be skilled enough to control a classroom? I don't buy the idea that people can't control their own home when they are at home (not off away on a trip or something -- THEN things could presumably happen). I feel very strongly about my own home!

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Dear Shocked_Parent,
Haven't you already noticed the silence is deafening (aside from the few of us who are appalled at the situation) - some people are just waiting this out so they can go on their merry way. I just wonder about the powerful parents of the kids involved who were able to "work" this situation. As I wrote before, I will be watching to be sure the law is applied the same to any future offenders. I have the feeling that those of us who are just folks would not have our kids treated as gently.

Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2006 at 4:50 pm

stanhutchings is a registered user.

I'd like the PA Daily reporter to find out why the underage drinkers were not cited. The police have a responsibility to arrest lawbreakers to protect the rest of us. You are just as dead if you are hit by a drunken underage driver as from any other violence.
At the very least, I believe everyone present should have been tested for blood alcohol, and if positive, cited. Then the accused should be brought before a judge, and if found guilty, hopefully at least sentenced to many hours of community service that would expose them to the downside of drinking.
Certainly the adults deserve blame for poor judgment, but to let the drinkers off with no consequences sends a terrible message, that it's alright to break the law. I don't believe any Palo Alto teenager thinks it's legal for them to drink; they all know it's illegal.
Part of the problems society is having now is that there are few significant consequences for illegal behavior. Just because nobody was injured or killed this time is no reason to let anyone off - the potential for mayhem from dozens of drunken teenagers driving around Palo Alto is truly scary. Perhaps if underage drinkers were jailed for a night, and given truly memorable consequences, the message would be sent to other underage persons thinking about drinking. Additionally, it would validate the decision by many other law-abiding teenagers to *not* drink.

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2006 at 4:57 pm

Of course everyone is upset. But, PLEASE, stop judging, and throwing spears. It doesn't help anyone.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 5:30 pm

My daughter is a recent grad of Paly. She went to the first dance at Paly in her freshman year because she loved going to dances at Jordan. However, she hated it. She said that "most" of the attendees were drunk or high and there was also the problem with freak dancing. I went to pick her up and was astounded to smell beer and the sweet smell of pot in the parking lot with police cars hanging around on the fringes. I was glad that she chose not to go to any more until near the end of her senior year when she chose to leave early because she had a 11.00 curfew due to the fact that it was illegal for young drivers to be on the roads after that time. I believe she was the only one who left in time. We have since got the dances to end at 10.30 because of this new law. The long and the short of it is that she proved herself responsible, making responsible decisions. She chose to hang out with friends who were not into drinking and rarely did things with large groups of people, choosing instead to have many non-Paly friends and usually spent her free time at each others' homes or going to the movies, in twos or threes.

The bottom line is that teens make their own choices. Some choose suspect behavior and some don't. Quite often(although not always) parents attitudes to behavior are mirrored in those of their offspring. Many Palo Alto families are ready to pay for high flying lawyers the minute their child gets caught and many are willing to let their kids suffer the consequences. Peer pressure is definitely a factor, but there are many groups of teens where the standard of behavior is very acceptable. To all Jordan parents worried about next year or thereafter, start now teaching values to your children, worry about who their friends are and what they are doing in their spare time. Be interested in their lives and show them you care about their behavior but want them to have a good time in a healthy environment. It is possible to survive high school for both parent and child, but it does take some effort.

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2006 at 5:50 pm

Thank "another Paly Parent", That was positive, and helpful. It's nice to hear about a family that really works. It certainly isn't easy, but it can happen, without being aggressive toward others.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 6:37 pm

When it comes down to it, we are invading the lives of private people. Yes, they broke the law, but that does not give us the right to judge them and criticize them? By doing so we show that our community has become judgmental and self-righteous. There might have been an error in judgement on the parts of the parents, but their mistake shouldn't have been publicized and sensationalized by the press. Also, each of the newspapers made it abundantly clear which Paly student held the party, invading her privacy as well. I am sure this family has been through enough since Saturday and we should mind our own business and move on with our lives so that they can too. Please, have a little compassion!

Posted by Get A Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2006 at 6:38 pm

It would be wrongful, and would make the BOE liable, to take strong action against the teacher in question, at this time, or probalby any time - other than a stern warning. Does a physician cited for a first misdemeanor lose her license? A beautician? A social worker? A CEO? A nurse? A President? A banker? A day care supervisor? This is not the end of a series of actions, or a pattern. A warning IS appropriate, with clear consequences to follow for repeat behaviors IF the person in question is shown BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT to be culpable. We still don't have the deep details.

The board better think hard about this, and instead of diffusing the power of this situation by firing someone, takes that power and turns it into a set of STRONG anti-drinking regulations with TEETH. IN addition, the BOE can use the incident to underline a set of new policies that reach further into the curriculum about the dangers inherent in ALL drug use, including alcohol.

Last, we need to keep on track about why the BOE meets tomorrow evening - to deal with a pattern of behavior by senior PAUSD executives that has created an unneccesarily chilling and uncommunicative atmosphere within the district.

Posted by Get A Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2006 at 6:50 pm

One more thing: The current problem aside, it appears tha MANY parents in Palo Alto (and elsewhere) host these parties so that they can "watch" their kids while they're drinking, so that the kids don't otherwise get into trouble.

Marin County has just passed a "social host accountability ordinance". Our City Counci lshuold look into doing the same - possible in cooperationwith other municipalities, or lobby Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties to enact similar legislation.

ONe of the things that bothers me about this is that some parents seem unable to say "you cannot and will not drink alcohol" until you're 21, and if I find out that you ARE drinking alchohol, there will be serious consequences, and we will be doing counseling together - period.

I understand and feel for parents who are trying to "protect" their kids in this way, but these parents must be helped to understand how wrong-headed this is. Love, in cases like this, can kill.

Posted by Get A Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 1, 2006 at 6:56 pm

One more thing: Palo Alto is WOEFULLY inadequate in its provision of services to teens. This city has been almost derelict in the latter, as well as being proactive about finding commercial interests that resonate with teen activities.

Why don't we have commercial interests here that cater to teens? Why aren't we pursuing those interests, or creating opportunity for those interests?

Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2006 at 7:01 pm

I wanted to share my opinions, as an attendee of the party. While, like the rest of the posters, I do not know whether Mrs. Swagerty and Mr. Stovel condoned the party, I do know more of the facts.

I think that the media and the police grossly misrepresented the party. A large number of people at the party were sober. So many people volunteered to take Breathalyzer tests that the police ran out. The police allege that people were going to drive home drunk, but they do not base this supposition off of any fact. There were enough sober people to drive drunk people home. Also, the few people who were outside the house were people who the Stovels had asked to leave because they were so intoxicated. But, before kicking them out Mrs. Swagerty actually offered to give them, and anyone else, rides home if they didn't have a sober driver.

Please give the Stovels the benefit of the doubt. Realize that the articles presented in the media are all completely one sided. And to those who claim that the police have no motivation for sensationalizing the story, they, in fact, do. The police seem to be trying to make an example out of the Stovels to prove to the area they are cracking down on teen parties.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 7:13 pm

Thank you Paly Student. There are many of us who are convinced that the details of what happened must be more like the events you mention rather than what has been in the media. Your courage in stating what you have said is worth commending. I am sure that you and your friends are realising a lot about what it is to be an adult and responsible from this series of events and that there are always people out there who want to point fingers without a full knowlege of the facts. I hope you also learn that there are always two sides to every story and that it pays to be open minded. I feel that you will be one of the successes in life and wish you the best.

Posted by Penny
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2006 at 7:33 pm

1. It is disgusting that a parent would have any underage person drinking at their house, drunk or not.
2. Some parents, regardless of their job or status in the community, have grey moral boundaries for their children and for anyone else.
3. Simply calling a parent to ascertain that they will be present at a party is not good enough. I would show up, verify that a parent was present and circulating throughout the party, and not allow my child to drive, regardless of driver's license or not. If it looked like the party could get out of control or if any alcohol was present, or if the parent was parked in front of the tv in a back bedroom, I would take my child home and that would that. I've done this before and it's very effective.
4. I would rather that my child was unpopular but understood my values and valued her life and future. I think some parents prize popularity and community status more than their child's own life. That was true when I was growing up in PA and it's still true today.

Posted by Paly student
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2006 at 7:35 pm

As a student and a journalist, I'm appalled by both the assumptions that anything reported by the media is the gospel truth (especially regarding something as chaotic as a party) and seriously suprised at how judgemental this community is.

Teen partying happens weekly, and that is an infinitely more important issue than demonizing good people who were merely hoping to excercise some measure of control (e.g. driving home drunk partiers) over a situation that would most likely have occurred somewhere else anyways.

What's disturbing is that much of the community response has been so overwhelmingly negative that no parent will want to in any way supervise a similar situation, meaning that teens will just throw parties when their parents are away. It is dangerous to castigate parents wishing to help their children (yes, we all know teen drinking is illegal, but realistically it's going to happen and it's better for parents to know about it than to remain blissfully ignorant).

To all those monitoring this message board and responding with vitriolic remarks and excerpted quotes from sensationalist and badly-researched articles, try being a little less "shocked" and a little more sympathetic. It's called being a role model.

Posted by Designated Driver
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 8:07 pm

As another attendee of this party and as one of the (many) designated drivers, I would like to second Paly Student's comments. Reading through the articles in the Daily, Chronicle, Weekly, and, in particular, the Merc, I was appalled at the way the party was portrayed. Out of all the party "details" listed, the only truly accurate fact was the misdemeanor report. Every article I have read incorrectly portrays a wild, out-of-control bash gone horribly wrong. Nothing could be more inaccurate.

This is NOT to say it's not a misdemeanor. My point is that anyone who has gleaned all of his or her information from the local media should be informed that every article published to date has been incredibly sensationalized and, at times, blatantly untrue. Don't condemn the Stovels as irresponsible parents with a trashed house and a 75-person booze fest going on in the yard - because NOTHING of the sort occurred. Our local newspapers would do well to show journalistic integrity and stop publishing stories without a concrete fact-check.

For those Palo Alto parents who are demonstrating good behavior for their children and waiting for the facts to come out before passing judgment, know that your children are fortunate to have such role models.

Posted by DD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 8:16 pm

And another thing - Officer Ryan was quoted as saying that the Stovels said, "What's the big deal? We'd rather have them party at home where it's safe." This is called second-hand quoting. Here's a hint: if a quote is not DIRECTLY attributed to a person, don't count on the person having said it. Personally, I think Officer Ryan got carried with all the potential publicity and couldn't help but stretch his facts. Poor guy.

a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:12 pm

This comment is responding to the many overprotective parents who have written on this message board, but especially to Penny from Professorville's comment. I find it in no way disgusting that a parent would allow a person to drink at their house if it were a supervised party. Assuming that Penny is as controling over her son or daughter's academic life as social life, it is safe to assume that her child will go to college. Part of college, aside from receiving an education, is making personal decisions without a parent. As a current college freshman, one of the decisions that I am often faced with is whether or not to drink. However, I had experience with making these decisions on my own while I was in high school, and unlike some of my other friends here who had VERY overprotective parents in high school, have been very moderate and in control in my consumption of alcohol.

As for your child, I don't know what he or she is going to do when he or she gets to college, but you don't either! Making a responsible decision on this issue could mean not drinking at all to drinking in moderation, as well as always having a designated driver at all parties. If the child steps outside these boundries, such as heavy binge drinking or driving drunk, which I fully oppose, then you step in and be the protective parent by not letting he or she make these bad decisions.

As I said before, you don't know what will happen in college because your child will be out of your control. You won't be able to drive up to a frat party to go in and fish your kid out because he or she is drinking a beer. This isn't a revolutionary method for being a parent-plenty of parents do this and their kids make the right decisions in college. I wish you luck with the overprotective parenting style, but I at hope you realize that other parents who allow their kids to drink do not have grey moral boundries, they have another style of parenting that I believe, as well as many others, is more effective in preparing their kids for college, and more importantly, life.

Posted by 1PalyParent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:19 pm

I commend the Paly student party attendees for their well thought out opinions. It would be enlightening however, for "designated driver" who stated that he or she knows for a fact that the only truth in the media was the misdemeanor citation to have rebutted all the supposed inconsistencies reported. No passed-out kids? No vomit? Did you witness Mrs.Swagerty offering the drunk teens rides home yourself? Home in an un-trashed condition? Any alcohol present you know for a fact was brought to the party? Why were intoxicated teens let into the home to begin with? Let's hear from more of the sober teens! Thankyou. Mom of a Paly junior

Posted by only parents talking
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Let the truth come out, and then everyone can talk all they want.
why is everyone taking this so personal and getting upset at each other.
you guys are imature and acting stupid, just stop

Posted by Party Attendee
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:45 pm

In response to 1paly parent -- in my opinion, most of what was written had factual basis but was exaggerated. While the house wasn't sparkling clean it was by no means "trashed." A few students had thrown up but not all over the house. The sick students were being taken care of by their friends. Many people, including myself, witnessed Mrs. Swagerty offering rides home. NONE of the alcohol was provided by the family. They locked their alcohol away so that no students would have access to it.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 9:56 pm

To designated driver - why don't you write a letter to the editor of the newspapers you are complaining about. If you know what really happened, why don't you state your version? You seem to have a low opinion of our local news media.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 10:10 pm

Parents are the true hypocrites when calling underage drinking "a crime". COME ON! YOU, myself included, are the parents who openly drink wine (i might add, more than one glass) at friends' houses, whose husbands come home "slightly" tipsy from an evening with his pals. And then you dare call underage drinking a crime? I am certainly not accepting that binge drinking is alright; it is an atrocity. But calling underage drinking a "crime" is the epitome of hypocrisy.

In this country, we deprecate porn and violence, while our children hide behind closed doors to watch it on tv. We set the drinking age to 21, and are "shocked" when teens, in rich Palo Alto, are bored to the point of having to get drunk every weekend. This is what happens in the life of a U.S. teen: at sixteen, they can drive. At eighteen, they are legal. At twenty-one, they may drink. I hope I am not the only one to see the great fallacy.

All the parents "shocked" at the alleged behavior of the kids in attendance of this party are, I am sad to say, hypocritical. Often, in a gathering with couples and their children where I bring my own kids, the adults drink wine, beer, and an occasional margarita, and then believe themselves fine to drive home. They strictly forbid underage drinking in their own homes, however, and are most likely numerous to have posted on this site. I come from a European culture, where underage drinking is not enforced, but family relationships are more honest and open.

Posted by DD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 10:14 pm

Another Paly Parent-

Don't worry, I've already written to the newspapers. And yes, I currently do have a very low opinion of the local news media.

That said, I do not think it is right to post "my version" of events on a public forum, because (1) like the newspaper versions, it would be entirely one-sided, and (2) the Stovels have not been charged yet, and it is neither this forum nor the media's job to give them a trial.

I think witnesses can in good conciousness refute facts stated in articles ("vomit everywhere," "75 teens," etc.), but let's leave it at that. And rest of you should not pass judgment.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 10:14 pm

to Chill Everyone -
you can't compare high school and college.I have NEVER before heard the idea advanced that one should lower the age at which one first tries liquor, much less gets drunk, in order to get experience in how to handle partying.
if you were moderate and in control and made "reasonable" decisions re: your consumption of alcohol while in high school, that doesn't sound typical of what most high school students can you really want to go counter to the flow of what is recommended by Mothers against Drunk Driving, etc., that teen drinking may lead to tragedy. I really want kids to survive to adulthood and also not take down other people, as can happen with drunk driving.
There is a difference between a high school student presumably age 16-17 and a college student age 18+ - it is understood there will be less parental supervision and more independent decision-making on the part of the college student. That's life. Some time and water has gone under the bridge. Sure, someone may take chances or take risks with drinking as a college freshman, too. It seems best if we all ease into decision making as we grow - it isn't wise to test oneself with binge drinking at a young age. Some of us parents didn't drink in high school and still had a social life. We parents are told our messages regarding moral and legal behavior influence our children so at the least we shouldn't openly condone breaking the law (even if it turns out some kids do break the law).
As I heard recently, som erecent research has shown the brains of 17 year olds to be considerably more impulsive (or less mature, etc.) than the brains of people just a few years older - major advances in maturity take place - I believe this has led some to ponder raising the driving age.
Bottom line is you're supposed to follow the law and underage drinking is breaking the law.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 10:28 pm

To Parent -
The drinking age used to be 18 in various states - I recall Mass. and nearby states had inconsistent drinking ages - but was raised to be 21 consistent across the states owing I think to the federal government making it a condition to receive funds (probably highway funds?) - it was a sort of bureaucratic thing imposed all over.
This took place back when I was a kid so I don't know all the details. I did understand there was scientific research behind the push - saving lives was the goal. There must be something to it (why the legal drinking age is 21).
I believe if you don't like the law you are free to try to change it. Great! You can vote when you're 18.
I know other countries have different ages for legal drinking.
Other cultures are also very different from here in the states. I have a hard time picturing a young person here having a drink of red wine with dinner (the hard partying scenario comes more to mind).

All of this is beside the point though as drinking under age 21 is illegal. Am I the only one who takes laws at least semi-seriously? Underage drinking may be a reality for some. I think underage drinking will be a lot worse if adults condone it.

BTW some of us rarely drink liquor. Really.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 10:57 pm

"another paly parent"
I believe you misinterpreted what I wished to say. I fully comprehend that the drinking age is 21 and that will not change; I merely wish to note that parents should not be so surprised that parties are happening, where kids are drinking. As a student noted, they will be happening whether or not parents are aware of it.

"I have a hard time picturing a young person here having a drink of red wine with dinner (the hard partying scenario comes more to mind)."
This is the mentality I am referring to. Although you may not consume any alcohol, or personally know of many parents who do, I can say that there are quite a number of alcohol consumers in the Paly parent community. The problem is when alcohol is right away associated with evil, as you say when you picture "hard partying" at the mention of alcohol (red wine?).
This creates a tendency for students to lean towards alcohol, in a binge-drinking fashion. They know they will be able to at twenty-one, and yet conversely are told of all its evil.
I am not in any way supporting heavy underage drinking. I just believe our society's attitude towards alcohol is what has created the binging tendencies of our teens.

Posted by One of Several Designated Drivers
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 1, 2006 at 11:19 pm

As a student who was actually at the party, I'd like to set the record straight on a few facts. First of all, allegations that there was no plan to get kids home are false. I myself was one of several sober students at the party, and acted as a Designated Driver. I gave one student a ride home before the police showed up and had committed to drive at least three more of my friends home, but was prevented from doing so by the police's arrival.

It was made clear from the start of the party that drunk driving was flatly unacceptable. Before driving the student home, I was stopped and asked if I had had anything to drink, and only when I answered in the negative was I allowed to go. Some of the guests had also intended to sleep over.

The news articles about the party relied almost exclusively on police reports; many students, for obvious reasons, did not want to speak on the record about the incident. The police reported with strong bias on the issue: one referred to the party as a "kegger," when there was never a keg involved, the number of students reported was inflated, and the accounts of kids falling and vomitting were gross exaggerations.

Some guests who showed up were uninvited: some would-be partygoers unknown to the hostess and were turned away. But for the most part, party-goers were dressed as Disney characters and enjoying themselves in a controlled manner. No one got hurt, and precautions were in place to ensure no one would be.

We students are very appreciative of the fact that the police did not cite students -- their stern warnings have been heard loud and clear. However, we also ask that the district and community not judge Mr. Stovel and Mrs. Swagerty either prematurely or harshly. A party in a house with parents is inherently safer than one in an empty house with no moderating adult presence. They did not supply the alcohol for the party, which was not the over-the-top affair inflated by the press.

Thank you to those of you who are being reasonable about this.

Posted by Paly Senior
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 12:04 am

As yet another partygoer, I would like to emphasize that our biggest complaint is the media's portrayal of the event. At Paly today, I couldn't sit through a class without somebody mentioning how enraged he or she was over the local coverage. Just about every kid at Paly knows or has heard about how inaccurate it is, but there's only so much we can do to get the word out. Many students will not go on the record in a newspaper article because their parents do not know they attended the party, but the least these articles could do is acknowledge that there is widespread disagreement among witnesses regarding the cited "facts."

It is unfair for the media to have started such a harsh misconception of the events that occurred on Saturday night. (Ditto to everything One of Several Designated Drivers said; anyone who attended the party could immediately verify that those details were all sensationalized.)

We all know a misdemeanor was committed, but some of the things I've read on this forum have been absolute fiction. It's especially upsetting when people cite police officers' quotes as the gospel truth. It doesn't even matter whether it was inadvertent or intentional; the fact is that a majority of the quoted statements were thoroughly exaggerated.

At this point, everyone who was not at the party should sit down, relax, and stop judging, because the media's made sure that your perception of what happened is incorrect.

Also, be sure to mention to anybody you discuss the situation with out there in the real world that all party details currently stated in newspapers are STRONGLY disputed!

Posted by The Inebriated Enigma
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 12:59 am

To Paly Parent,

I believe you grossly misunderstood what Chill Everyone put forth. In no way, shape, or form did he/she endorse drunk driving, as a matter of fact, he/she strongly discouraged it. Drunk driving is one of the stupidest things anybody can ever do. Nobody is going against MADD, nobody is advocating drunk driving, nobody is saying teenagers should be put into dangerous positions (and no, responsible drinking is not a dangerous position).

Let me pose my own situation to you in the context of my college experience, as I am curious to hear your reactions:

-If we go by the straight definition of "binge drinking" (i.e. 5 drinks or more at a sitting for males), I am a binge drinker.
-I am a college freshman and drink nearly every single Friday and Saturday night.
-And when I say drink, I mean drink expressly with the purpose of getting drunk in mind. I recognize that this is not neccessarily responsible drinking, but the ONLY way I can do this is because I drank a bit in high school (at "sketchy" highschol parties), knew my limits, knew what alcohol does to my body, and know how to stay out of trouble.
-Had I not drank in highschool (and I know many of my friends who didn't) I feel like my first exposure to a world so rife with what some would call substance abuse would've been a tragic one. I know kids taken to the hospital because they didn't know how to handle the atmosphere, got carried away drinking, and had too much.
-I go to one of the top 12 colleges in the nation, and I got here through extremely hard work over my entire educational career.
-I am an achiever in college. I do very well, and I plan on attending a graduate school of equal or greater caliber than my university. In short, I plan on being successful, and know I have the tools and ability to do so.
-Drinking has not hindered my academic performance. If anything, video games have. I would sooner check myself into a virtual detox center than one for alcohol.

Drinking happens in college, in fact, it happens all the time. I do not feel pressured in any way to drink, I do so because it is enjoyable to me. There is no "cool feeling" or "rebellious sentiment" I recieve from being inebriated. Drinking does not make me cool. I choose to do so. Is this wrong? Am I a bad person? I ask you for a response, but I would submit that I am doing nothing dangerous or wrong. As long as I continue to be safe in my drinking habits and ensure that I do not harm myself or anyone around me, as the later is equally or even more possible in the case of drunken adolescents, nothing is wrong.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 1:52 am

I think that the drinking at 21 law is stupid and I hope one day it will collapse under its own weight. Just for the record, it was pushed by the feds on the states through threatening to withhold the highway funds. Similar to the -- thankfully dead now -- idiotic 55 mph speed limit.

Anyway, in my home all the kids were taught to drink wine and beer with meals in their early teens. Some liked it, and some didn't. In their late teens I introduced them -- carefully -- to spirits and liqueurs. Again, some liked it and some didn't, but all knew how to drink, and how much they can handle.

The whole exercise had a simple purpose -- I didn't want them to participate in binge drinking as teenagers, and since they had nothing to prove anymore, they never did. Further, I knew -- as someone mentioned above -- that in college I will have no control over them. Since it was clear that they will drink in college as almost everybody does, I wanted them to drink responsibly. But how can they drink responsibly if they have had no experience??? Would you let your child start driving a car without any practice or supervision? So I provided them with the practice and supervision, and the hell with the law!

Finally, the law created another bind for us. When the kids wanted to have a party with drinks, should we stay at home or not? Like someone already mentioned, if we stayed around we would be able to monitor the behavior and stop any excesses. But if the police (or some "enlightened" parents) were to show up, our presence would have had much more severe legal consequences than if only the kids were in the house. With a tip of a hat to our own Senator Simitian and to his idiotic drinking law, I will stop here and not share how we solved this problem.

To the Paly students -- you are OK! Don't worry too much over the hyperventilating "adults."!

Posted by TheVoiceOfReason
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 2, 2006 at 1:54 am

The Art of Motherhood

Penny from Professorville, I would like to address your comment. First, I would like to commend you for your brilliant description of your frantic searches for your teenage children. You seem to have mastered the art of infiltrating a social gathering and leaving with your target firmly contained. May I suggest a future career on the Palo Alto S.W.A.T team? Plainly put, your statement makes me sick to my stomach. Your claim that you would hastily remove your child, “If it looked like the party could get out of control, or if any alcohol was present” demonstrates your despicable lack of trust in your offspring.

You claim this method is “very effective.” I would like to ask, “Very effective in achieving what?” You are sheltering your child from the world that surrounds him. Simply because there is alcohol present, does not mean your child is going to drink it excessively, let alone touch it all. Parents place vegetables on the dinner table each night, yet for some reason, that gosh darn spinach seems to remain untouched. What are you trying to achieve through the removal of your child?

Chill Everyone brings up a good point. Are you going to behave in this manner for the rest of your child’s life? When is he/she of age to make his own decisions? As I am writing, I am imagining your child’s wedding day. There he/she is, looking absolutely dashing in wedding attire, glass of champagne in hand. Your child toasts the crowd and raises the glass to his/her lips. (cough cough…Penny, that is your cue) In one swift motion, you dive across the table (may I point your astonishing resemblance to the great Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears), and tackle your child to the ground. You then presume to wrestle the glass of alcohol from your child’s hand, and because it is such an “effective” method, you drag your child out of the room and into your car that is waiting outside. Wow, I can just see your child, 50 years later, sitting on a rocking chair (NO glass of scotch in hand of course), telling his/her grandchildren about that eventful wedding day.

To be fair, being the incredible mother that you are, you most likely would have avoided this embarrassing ordeal in the first place. Why is that? Well, you would have thoroughly searched the reception room beforehand and noticed the chilled bottles of Dom Perignon awaiting the celebration. Upon first sight of this substance, you would have quickly ushered your child away. You may feel you are doing your children a favor by sheltering them from the real world, but as Coach Boone said in Remember the Titans, “You are crippling them; You are crippling them for life.”

You have criticized parents who allow their children to drink as having “grey moral boundaries.” Penny, I question the morality of your actions. You claim, “I would rather that my child was unpopular but understand my values and valued her life and future.” Penny, you have gone far beyond instilling an understanding of values in your child. When I think of a child building an understanding of his/her parent’s values, I think of a family meeting, in which an idea such as drinking is discussed. It is your right; in fact, it is your duty as a parent to teach your child about the dangers of alcohol and the effects that it can have on a human. Yet rushing into a house, grabbing hold of your child, and taking him/her away because of the presence of alcohol is NOT an example of helping your child build a simple “understanding” of your values. Rather, it is an example of a lunatic mother forcefully and detrimentally compelling her child to adopt her OWN views and values.

Since when does a child’s set of values have to be a carbon copy of his mother’s? Penny, if all mothers raised their children the way you do, the entire nation would embrace a set of values similar to those of their ancestors. While this may seem ideal in your model of “utopian motherhood,” I would claim that the great social innovators (figures such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandella , and Susan B. Anthony) had values that differed from those of their ancestors. What I am getting at is this Penny: If all mothers raised their children the way you have chosen to raise yours, the drinking fountains at Walter Hayes would be segregated, Terman Middle School Students would be studying the current apartheid in South Africa, and you, being a woman, would be without a vote in the upcoming election. You see Penny, forcing a child to adopt a set of values leads to one thing, stagnation. As Frank Zappa once said, “Without deviation, progress is not possible.”

There is nothing like sitting in front of a computer at two in the morning, listening to the rain gently fall outside my window, while sipping a warm cup of tea and laughing hysterically at the outrageous comments made in this forum. Who knew a sober night could be so entertaining? Penny, for this I am forever indebted to you.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 7:05 am

I don't know what to make of the Paly students who are "speaking out." According to them, everything was hunky-dory, everybody was under control, very little vomiting, many designated drivers, no trashing etc. etc. Simply put, the police got it all wrong and the media has wronged everyone at the party including the host. Wow! All of a sudden, they are the victims. Forget that there was any drinking, the real issue.

Is our police so inept at getting things right? Are they prone to exaggerate what they see? I guess parents were not called to take some students back?

I'm beginning to wonder if the police made a big mistake by not citing any of the students for drinking. Now, these same students are biting on the officers, who according to media reports (oop! bad source), were more concerned with getting the students home safely.

Talk about a world turned upside down!

Posted by yet another attendee
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2006 at 8:14 am

Shocked_Parent, don't be ridiculous. I for one never drink so was (as usual) dead sober the entire night. I can tell you for a fact that the police reports are exaggerated. If you don't believe us, you are simply perpetuating the discouraging adult tendency to discount teenage opinions because we "don't understand" or "aren't trustworthy." Oh, please. I understand full well that a misdemeanor was committed, and my own parents would definitely never allow me to allow ANY drunk people into my home, let alone throw a party.

But that is not the point here. The point, pure and simple, is that people like you are making a huge mistake in judging the situation without knowing all the details. You are judging based on the perception you have of the party. I suppose, in the long run, you might judge simply based on the misedemeanor, but to this I say: don't judge.

Personally, I think it's depressing, that I, a seventeen-year-old, have to tell an adult this.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:00 am

Even if accounts can differ, based on the shock factor, age difference, and familiarity or the lack thereof with teen "drinking" parties, the key issues remain the same.

And there are really only two key issues here:
1. Underage drinking is wrong, legally and for other reasons such as health and safety.
2. When adults knowingly allow underage drinking under their nose, it is legally just a misdemeanor by contributing to the delinquency of minors but in my opinion is much worse because they are endangering the health and safety of those same minors. The case in point is particularly troubling because some teens were allowed to get drunk! Teens are both rebellious and under a lot of peer pressure to belong. It is therefore of utmost importance for adults to send the right message to the young drifting minds. They should not under any circumstance or use any excuse to aid and abet underage drinking.

Posted by Hester Prynne
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:01 am

Thank you, Yet Another Attendee, for reminding us "adults" that appointing ourselves Judge and Jury makes us poor role models, ineffectual parents and unadmirable adults. Our children and their peers deserve a lot more than absolutism, finger pointing, name calling and shocking hyperbolics. Let's remain calm and allow the Stovels their day in court.

Posted by Lets get it right
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:30 am

I will start off by saying that I am no lawyer or expert on the law, but exactly what is the law and what is illegal.

It is illegal for those under 21 to buy alcohol, to sell alcohol to those under 21 and to buy alcohol for those under 21. I do not think it is illegal for those under 21 to drink alcohol in their home or at the home of someone else. I may be wrong, but I do not think that underage drinking is the crime that it is called.

It is illegal for an under age driver to have any alcohol in their blood while driving and illegal to carry any alcohol (open or closed containers) in their vehicle while driving.

It is illegal for anyone to offer alcohol to someone other than their own children in their own home.

Now many things may be unwise or morally wrong, but let's be accurate about what is the law and what is illegal. I did say that I was no legal expert and bow to anyone who knows more accurately what the law is, but this is my present understanding of things.

I have teenagers and have offered them wine with a meal (in small quantities) and tasted liquers, etc. at appropriate times. I do drink in front of my children at the appropriate times and in appropriate quantities. At family gatherings, when my daughter had her full licence, I have allowed her to be the designated driver so that my husband and I could both have a couple of glasses of wine. But we were in no way drunk and although it would have been illegal for us to drive, we were still in full control of the other children in the car and able to give directions as to which route to take, etc. We feel that showing this sort of responsibility is the right way to teach our children to make the right choices in life. Our eldest is now away at college and making her own choices although she hasn't yet turned 18 (will do later this month). We are in contact with her on her terms on a regular basis and let her live her life. She does have the power to deceive us, but on these important matters we are trusting her and she appears to be honoring this trust, telling us of what goes on in her dorms and with her new friends, but being able to stay apart from what she finds unappealing. This type of parenting style has seemingly worked for her without the heavy handedness type of approach and I commend other parents a similar method.

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:01 am

Dear Shocked_Parent,

We have a read your posts, ..and your opinions over, and over again. Maybe it is time for you to take you fingers off the keyboard.

If you are so anxious to change things, join the PAPD, or run for the school board. Then you can spout all you want

Posted by A concerned grandma
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:32 am

To the Inebriated Enigma: Just because you haven't been caught yet doesn't mean that you are correct in your behavior. Wow! five drinks! I do hope you are caught before you kill yourself or someone else. You are fooling yourself if you think you can handle it. Of course, if you stay in your dorm room, that's o.k. Just don't drive. If you do, let me know where you are so I'll stay out of your way.

Posted by Mother of Two
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:46 am

It’s good to hear the students side, and I am glad to hear that not every teenager in the party was a waste. But I feel that it is an absurd to take the blame of the party and to put in on the police officers and the media.

Teens were drinking, and even if some of the designated drivers were not drinking, I believe that some were. A Palo Alto student died last year after a party... this is too sad for the family and the community. Young people may not how risk is it to get drunk and wasted.

Parents, let's help our children - let's do something to help the community. If they are drinking, to the point that 80% of teenagers showing up in a school party are already drunk, we do have a very serious problem.

How can we fix this? People need to be responsible for their actions! IMO, parents that allow drunk teens in their homes, do need to be punished, and so the kids! A good message has to be put out over there.

And, maybe the media is bias, but if we have a drinking problem in our community, I believe that media should exaggerate as much as possible to get our attention! This behavior is dangerous for all of us, and need to be stopped. I hope the Board takes serious action against the teacher. I also hope that they can do something to stop teenager arriving drunk at school parties.... And parents, please, take away your children driving previlages if they are drinking.... Do this for them and for our community!

Posted by OJ fan
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:50 am

To shocked parent--better bring along extra tar and feathers--not only will you need it for the hosts of the party but also for all the attendees of the party that dare to disagree with the "factual" police and newspaper reports, as well as all the posters on this forum that dare to disagree with you--tar and feather them all and run them out of town--Judge Shocked Parent has decided.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:56 am

one of several designated drivers writes that for teens a party with parents around is inherently safer than one without.
So... this may mean if parents don't bow to their kids' demands and host teen parties, the teens will go elsewhere and party. How about if the teens choose to do just that, the parents discipline their kids?
The discussion sounds like all teens think the same way, do the same things. I don't believe that is the case.
Suppose this drinking elsewhere results in kids getting caught breaking the law, drunk driving, or God forbid, a tragedy like alcohol poisoning. So this is the threat that is hung over my head as a parent that if I don't allow/condone teen drinking under my roof (or with other parents)-- then it means I was part of the above results? I don't buy it. Parents and the community have a moral obligation to explain the law to their teens and teach teens to follow it. If/when some teens choose to break the law, they should suffer the consequences. NOT ALL teens drink, don't lump all together.

Posted by George
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 11:16 am

One aspect that I don't think has been mentioned in these comments are the liability implications involved in hosting this kind of party. Whatever your view of the moral implications of hosting a party where underage people drink, the possibility that someone might get injured as a result of drinking there would give me nightmares, as a homeowner. How much liability insurance do you have on your property? 500K? Do you have an umbrella policy? Would either of these cover you for punitive damages? Likely not if you were cited by the police for negligence. If someone was seriously injured driving home due to underage drinking that was tolerated at your house, under your supervision, you can imagine a scenario which quickly put all of your assets at risk. I personally do not understand why anyone would run those kinds of risks.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 1:22 pm

Limiting drinking age is a normative law. So was the 55 mph speed limit, and so is the definition of drunk driving, which arbitrarily changed from 0.1% BAC to 0.08% few years ago. There is no DIRECT connection between normative laws and morality, like there is in substantive laws (prohibition of murder, theft, etc.)

Normative laws are very important, because they keep the wheels of our society working effectively. But we should not confuse utilitarian aspects with moral ones. Breaking the speed limit is not the same as murder. Under age drinking is not the same as theft.

As long as alcohol is legal in our society, we should recognize that we will not be able to avoid its attraction to youth. Not to mention that we don't do such a good job with illegal substances either. Kids are right in seeing through the "alcohol is bad for you" rubbish. Sometimes it is bad, sometimes it isn't. Use your judgment. Same like with speeding.

We have a sound principle here in California. As long as the majority of drivers on a given road routinely exceeds the posted speed limit, police can't use radar guns on that road. In other words, some normative laws that are clearly ignored by the majority of our society lose much of their secondary moral power too. Maybe it is time to acknowledge this principle with underage drinking and smoking too.

After all, 50 million Frenchmen can't be all wrong...

Posted by withheld
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 3:49 pm

Just goes to show you, you have to be careful because your fellow man will turn you in. Can't have any fun or relax, always have to watch your back.

Posted by Another Shocked Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Lisa Swagerty and Richard Stovel must be blind and deaf if they did not supervise or know what's going on in that party. They should be punished harder than others, because they are teacher and scientist, well-educated people. This case is not just local news. All nations are watching. You will make yourself fool while defending for them.

Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 5:00 pm

Lisa Swagherty is the best teacher that I've ever met. She is one of the few people that believes that a 3rd grader is still a child and, that we shouldn't push them to their limit! She is fair, kind, and , such a positive person. We are all human and, we all make mistakes. This incident is really not a big deal! Don't blow this out of proportion. Let's respect the Swagherty's and leave them alone. There are alot more serious things going on around us.

Posted by Another Shocked Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 5:24 pm

Speaking of more serious things, EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Lisa Swagerty and Richard Stovel made a very big mistake for allowing this kind of party at home. They are very bad models for the children. They should publicly apology to all children, parents, communities, and nation for what they did.

Posted by Eric Meltzer
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2006 at 5:40 pm

"Teens are both rebellious and under a lot of peer pressure to belong." (--A shocked parent)

Cool! I was actually unaware that my every impulse could be so well-described by a sweeping generalization, but if someone too embarassed of their half-formed opinion (and I use the word very loosely) to use their real name says so, it must be true.

"[The Stovels] should publicly apology to all children, parents, communities, and nation for what they did." (--Another shocked parent)

Yes, "another shocked parent," the Stovel's should apologize to the NATION for having a party. There is nothing at all ridiculous about demanding a NATIONAL APOLOGY for holding a party. Retarded.

"Speaking of more serious things, EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING." (ibid)

Agreed, so let's allow Ms. Swagerty to return to her job, EDUCATING CHILDREN. It's cowardly miscreants like yourself, too afraid to attach a name to your unwarranted opinions even in an online forum that would stop her from continuing to do exactly what you attach superlative importance to.

"All nations are watching. You will make yourself fool while defending for them." (ibid, sic)

It is after reading this quote that I begin to think "another shocked parent" is a joke. No way could someone seriously think that a neighborhood party is an international incident. If you seriously think that, I invite you to seek professional psychiatric assistance.

Although amusing, the ravings of the "shocked parents" are sadly indicative of an undercurrent of out of touch, vengeful people in the community. While underage drinking is a problem, pushing it out of sight (away from parents) certainly won't put it out of mind, especially when an accident happens and parents are unable to assist.

Posted by a responsible parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:04 pm

Lisa can be a wonderful person, but what happened in her house is very serious! Luckily the police was called and no one was hurt. Let’s not forget that a Palo Alto student died last year after leaving drunk from a party.

"Palo Alto Parent", there is nothing more serious than loosing the life of a young person. And drinking and driving is one of the main causes of young people loosing their lives.

I think that more important than being a wonderful person is to be a responsible person. I want responsible adults near my children. I worry about their safety and the safety of others. This is the biggest issue for me.

Posted by Eric Meltzer
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:20 pm

It's sorta funny how the people with rational opinions can spell and adhere to standard grammatical convention, while the whackjobs are barely understandable. I think even if I drank quite alot (which I don't) I could construct a more intelligent post than a lot of those I'm reading right now.

Posted by Hester Prynne
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:30 pm

Eric- I couldn't agree more. It is rather SHOCKING, the grammar, sentence structure and punctuation of a number of these posts. But please remember, pointing fingers takes a lot less cerebral flexibility than keeping an open mind.

Posted by E Class
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:30 pm

I'm 17 years old and I attended this "disguting" and "angering" party and I can say honestly that the articles and stories heavily exaggerate the situation. I read one article that there were at least 75 kids there, and this is nothing but a complete fabrication. There were probably 40-50 kids at the peak point in the night.

Some articles imply that there was a keg present, which is not true. It implies that the house was strewn with vomit, which is not true. (Two girls vomited in the bathroom.)

All the articles are based solely upon the comments made by Officer Ryan; there are no other sources. Naturally, they will be pretty one-sided, since there is only one side.

The article also failed to mention that it was a Halloween party, making it a special occasion. These kinds of parties don't happen every weekened, despite what anyone might imply. And when they do happen, Saferide is always a valid option. I myself have Saferide's number in my cell phone.

What angers me the most is how this party turned into a scandal. Teenagers will have the capacity to party if they want to. Stovel and Swagerty only tried to provide a safe place where they could maintain a minimum level of control. They are good people that don't deserve this kind of attention and scrutiny.

Posted by Eric Meltzer
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:37 pm

Haha shut up Hester, before I stick a scarlet letter on you and take your stupid kid away. Go knit me something pretty. I'd also venture that "cerebral flexibility" is a metric you just made up.

I'd also say that using a pseudonym is a pretty ridiculous thing to do if you want to be taken seriously... to emphasize that point, I just won't (take you seriously, that is.)

Posted by Eric Meltzer
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:40 pm

Sorry Hester, that was a bit mean. Still though, real name please :)

Posted by ABZ
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:41 pm

I live in San Diego.
When i heard about the issue, i was outraged!!! as a concerned citizen, i think the parents should get maximum punishment. i dont want rowdy teenagers carousing in my street.

Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:53 pm

To ABZ in San Diego:
Before you waste any energy being outraged, please read the entire thread of this conversation. We've already heard from many outraged people thinking they had all the facts. Hearing from another one adds nothing to the conversation.

Posted by attendee
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:54 pm

I think there's a lot of social norming going on here. If parents think kids are going to drink regardless of whether they permit it or not, and if they think that many parents share their views, it is not surprising that they are open to the idea of "supervised" teen drinking. I think Stovel and Swagerty are victims of social norming. Palo Alto definitely has an obsession with teenage delinquency, and when article after article and "Most of Us" survey after "Most of Us" survey reach the public, people are inclined to make decisions accordingly.

So, rather than blaming Stovel and Swagerty's irresponsibility and poor morals, etc., etc., instead view them as victims of social norming, who reasoned that kids would be drinking that night regardless of whether or not they provided a safe locale.

For it definitely WAS a safe party. Everyone who attended (myself included) can vouche for that. That's what the media has done wrong: it's turned this into a question of morals and responsibilty by portraying a huge, wild, dangerous blowout when the REAL issue is the fact that a few parents see it as necessary to supervise a safe, albiet not entirely dry (though, remember, they did not serve any of the alcohol; kids either pre-gamed or brought their own), party.

You judgmental people can blame the individual all you want, but ultimate blame lies with our entire community, which exaggerates what we Palo Alto kids do in our spare time and leaps at any opportunity to talk about teenage drug use, sex, and alcohol abuse.

Stop your perverse obsession with teenagers! We're not all stoners, alcoholics and sex fiends, nor are we stupid. Too many of you are currently turning this into yet another example of why parents feel they need to supervise parties because "kids will be drinking anyway." Butt out of Stovel and Swagerty's business and remember that it's all partially your fault.

Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2006 at 7:23 pm

The parents didn't supervise the party. If they did they would have taken the car keys away at the door from the 30 kids that were drinking. There were 20 kids that were not drinking at the party. Why couldn't the parents just have a party without drinking. They might have got a few of the other 30 kids learning that you can enjoy a party without drinking.

Posted by Applauding the Teens
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 7:31 pm

To the teens for speaking up on behalf of the Stovels, I applaud you. You seem very well spoken, and you seem to have thought over the consequences of speaking out on behalf of someone/people who is/are not very popular with the community right now. I think that it takes a lot of guts to do what you are doing.

As we know, we have not heard from the accused, which leads me to believe that there is a SECOND side to the story that is not being reported yet. My guess, a true account of what actually happened with come to those who are interested in hearing it.

My hope is that there will be a LARGE mea culpa from the news agencies, the police department and the SHOCKED parents on this site when the truth (if the truth revealed is anything like that expressed by the teens) is out.

Posted by paly student
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 7:38 pm

To "Mom" -

They weren't supervising the drinking; they were there to ensure that everybody would stay safe. And no offense, but you don't know what you're talking about. We're not idiots; everyone at the party had either a pre-arranged "designated driver" or else was intending to sleep over. And here we go again with the social norming: "They might have got a few of the other 30 kids learning that you can enjoy a party without drinking."

Yeah, because teenagers who drink at parties will do so no matter what. We're so unenlightened, not understanding that being sober is fun, too!

It's comments like this one that perpetuate the inclination toward "permissive" parenting. If a parent thinks most kids will be drinking anyway, he or she feels obligated to provide a safe haven.

I agree completely with "attendee": this entire situation is ultimately the fault of those Palo Altans who leap at any opportunity to support their generalizations about teenagers.

Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 7:52 pm

Shocked Parents! I agree with all of you whole-heartedly! After all, anyone in their right mind can see that this immoral bacchanalia obviously leads to nuclear war!
1) Teens get caught drinking at a party.
2) Parents become outraged and fill a message board or two with posts comdemning negligence on parents' and police' parts, and demand a crackdown on underage drinking.
3) Responding to parents' concerns, the police force decides to hire new officers and invest in new technology to help track down and destroy these pint-sized, pint-downing villains.
4) This renewed focus on police, and the increased presence, desensitizes citizens to the escalating police-state nature of their society.
5) The government takes advantage of this desensitization to divert more resources to the military-industrial complex.
6) Afraid of falling behind, other countries also step up their national security and military budgets.
7) Some trivial event causes tension (teens running to mexico to escape irrational parents?), which the large M-I complex helps escalate to violence.
8) Presto, nuclear war and the end of society as we know it! All because of those damn kids!

Remember, teens who drink HATE AMERICA. They WANT the TERRORISTS and COMMUNISTS TO WIN.
Oh, and of course anyone over 21 would never, ever drink and drive, because they're just too rational and well-developed for that. And if you hear and believe that they do, and think that maybe they should either ban alcohol for everybody or stop being hypocrites and, like the majority of the developed world, lower the drinking age to 18, you HATE AMERICA TOO. God Bless.

Posted by hahaha
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 7:56 pm

Rock on, Anon.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 8:33 pm

all the joshing aside....the police WERE called by somebody and there must have been a reason.

Posted by paly student
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:05 pm

yeah, the kids they kicked out/offered rides home to because they were too inebriated were making a lot of noise in the street.

Posted by Ariana Snow
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:08 pm

All of the people without the facts in this town, who like to blame and ridicule this family disgust me. I attended this party, and I know all the facts that went down and I maintain my complete respect for this family. These parents offered sober rides and a place to sleep- if anything they PREVENTED drunk driving. I felt 100 % safe in their home, and they were extremely responsible in making sure that all of the teens were safe. If they had called the cops or parents, kids would have run out of the house in an instant- because it is a lot harder for two parents to control a group of 50 or 60 rather than 10 or so cops. These kids would have probably driven drunk to another party that was happening (I know for certain that there were two going on, both with drinking and both without parents). The police report is in fact NOT accurate, as well as numerous of the printed articles. There has been such an uproar from the kids who attended to party because of the number of innaccurate statements. There is currently a follow up article being written by the mercury news that will state the kids' side- and the truth. No we are not a bunch of stupid kids who are defending the family because we like to drink- we are just telling the truth and showing what is right. The host of this party and her parents are some of the sweetest people in the world and for people to slander them with their comments is atrocious. Get the real facts before you critisize this case.
And to the comment (Shocked_Parent) who said that Nieleplo's quotes are fact, they are NOT. I can name over five examples of his assumptions that are in fact incorrect. I have already contacted the Palo Alto police department because I was outraged at the number of innaccuracies in the quotes they provided to the press.

Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:17 pm

I think that "anon" aptly represented the problems with the moral absolutism of Palo Alto parents. I think we can all agree that there was some lapse in the parents' judgement. However, before we start pointing fingers at the parents and the students at the party I think everyone needs to consider the facts of the situation.

The Palo Alto community has only heard from the police about the situation. While I respect the authority of the PAPD, I scoff at those of you who take everything the police say at face value and regard the Police as moral superiors. Think about how many times in history police forces have been corrupt or flawed.

Many of the parents who posted on the board seem to think that you are raising your children to be perfect (and sober) angels. I regret to inform you that many students at Paly who drink have parents just like you.

If you don't know the specifics of the situation then you have no right to say that Mrs. Swagerty deserves to lose her job. In fact, the family does not deserve the public scorn it is receiving right now. They haven't been convicted of any crime and their is no proof to back up your blind accusations other than the one-sided information presented in the sensationalistic media.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:50 pm

OK, Paly students who attended the party, you can keep picking on the media reports and police statements but they are not the real issues. As I stated before, there are only two issues which no matter how you portray the events last Saturday remain true.

1. There were a lot of booze - the police mentioned beer, vodka, and tequila - and many students were drinking, some heavily resulting in at least one girl passing out and a number vomiting. Is this much true? If so, do you think this was right?

2. The host's parents were present but did nothing to stop anyone from drinking, some heavily to eventually fail a breathalyser test. Is this much true? Is so, do you not think they contributed to your delinquency?

BTW, there is so far nothing new from any media concerning any misrepresentation by police. Mercury is reporting tonight that Palo Alto police has delivered their report on the incident to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Posted by Applauding Teens
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:08 pm

Web Link
Yes, Shocked, you are correct, however we don't really know what is in that report....

Posted by Party Attendee
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:11 pm


The simple facts you stated - teens drank (though I personally saw nobody who was passed out), sobriety was not strictly enforced - are accurate. However, while it is true that you may see something wrong with this, and that, for example, my own parents see something wrong with this, you MUST stop viewing it as the immoral actions two individuals.

There is a great post somewhere up there by "attendee" about social norming. You should go read it.

To further that thought, I think Stovel and Swagerty contributed to "delinquency," but they did so because people like you put so much emphasis on every occurance of teen drinking that some parents take it upon themselves to prevent what has been portrayed to them as an "inevitable" situation. The consumtion of alcohol may be illegal, but the party was definitely "safe"; teens were drinking but nobody was driving drunk or endangering themselves or others.

So, beyond looking at it as a question of right or wrong, we need to examine our community and understand why some parents feel it their moral obligation to provide a safe place for kids to have a party. You don't have to look very far for the answer: to quote "attendee's" earlier comments, "You judgmental people can blame the individual all you want, but ultimate blame lies with our entire community, which exaggerates what we Palo Alto kids do in our spare time and leaps at any opportunity to talk about teenage drug use, sex, and alcohol abuse."

Too true, too true. And this is why, misdemeanor or otherwise, some parents see it as their responsibility to ensure that, if kids are going to drink, they should at least do it responsibly.

Now please stop with your pointless preaching; you're only adding to the problem.

Posted by incredulous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 11:06 pm

Yes, the "NATION" is watching...

Posted by Another Shocked Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2006 at 11:14 pm

Law is the rule that we all have to obey, period. Nothing is in between. Underage drinking, using drugs, drunk driving are all breaking the law. Parents, who do not educate their children and allow that happen, are irresponsible and endanger their children’s health and life. This is a very serious problem. Don't give me those nonsense excuses for their unlawful actions.

Posted by Paly Senior with Ideas
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 11:28 pm

What strikes me as hypocritical and false is the automatic association of drinking with being drunk. Yes it’s true that a large portion of the people at the party was drinking, but to say they were “out of control drunk” is a fallacy. Adults have erected a double standard, justifying their drinking of alcohol for socializing, but scrutinizing our use of alcohol as an irresponsible, punishable offense, when we are simply trying to emulate our parents. What magically happens when we turn 21 that allows us to suddenly shift groups and be see seen in a better light?

Instead of picking a scapegoat in Stovel and Swagerty, why not address the general trend: teens are drinking. If you as a parent strongly disapprove of your child drinking alcohol, then send that message through your own actions by not drinking. However, if you look to alcohol as a socializing agent and means of relaxation, why expect different from your children? The next step in life for most of us is college, and it is a safe assumption to make that drinking will be quite prevalent. If students have not been introduced to alcohol before, they are unaware of their drinking limits and what it takes for them to be drunk. This is a dangerous problem and where lapses in judgement can lead to drinking and driving and more seriously, death.

By senior year many students have been introduced to alcohol, are well aware of their individual limits, and believe it or not, can drink responsibly. I personally believe that Officer Ryan is vilifying this couple in an attempt to push for more stringent laws against teens (like in Los Altos) and make himself into a local hero, saving 75 potential drunk drivers (absolutely ridiculous assumption). Instead of placing Officer Ryan on a thrown and let him be our unquestioned leader and source of knowledge, lets form a focus group. Lets talk, teens and parents, but lets not take away someone’s job or shun them from the community, that is simply juvenile.

Stovel and Swagerty do not deserve any more blame then each parent that had a child at that party, but there happens to be no law penalizing them. The community needs to move past this incident and address the teen-drinking epidemic, yes, epidemic.

Posted by Party Attendee
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 11:29 pm

If you think it's nonsense, I pity your children and the shallow perception of the world you will foist upon them. Nothing is ever black and white. As an adult, you should know that. But maybe we teenagers also have a misconception of the wisdom of our elders...

Posted by Another Shocked Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2006 at 12:13 am

I don't know what you guys were talking about. Black is black. White is white. Underage drinking is illegal, period.
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Posted by Anon
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 3, 2006 at 12:24 am

Another Shocked Parent writes that "Law is the rule that we all have to obey, period. Nothing is in between. Underage drinking, using drugs, drunk driving are all breaking the law."

If "nothing is in between", can we please add to this list also illegal immigration, sheltering illegal immigrants, employment of illegal immigrants, and the leaking of secret information to the New York Times? Something tells me that our Palo Alto crusaders for lawfulness will figure a reason to avoid THAT...

Bigotry is alive and well in Shallow Alto.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 3, 2006 at 12:45 am

The third link posted by Another Shocked Parent is a keeper! Thank you! Thank you!

Some quotes (under Myths & Facts)

Alcohol destroys brain cells.
The moderate consumption of alcohol does not destroy brain cells. In fact it is often associated with improved cognitive (mental) functioning.

Drinking long enough will cause a person to become alcoholic.
There is simply no scientific basis for this misperception, which appears to have its origin in temperance and prohibitionist ideology.

Alcohol stunts the growth of children and retards their development.
Scientific medical research does not support this old temperance scare tactic promoted by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Anti-Saloon League, the Prohibition Party, and similar groups. 7

A single sip of alcohol by a pregnant woman can cause her child to have fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Extensive medical research studying hundreds of thousands of women from around the world fails to find scientific evidence that light drinking, much less a sip of alcohol by an expectant mother, can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Of course, the very safest choice would be to abstain during the period of gestation. [see Fetal Alcohol Syndrome]

The US has very lenient underage drinking laws.
The US has the most strict youth drinking laws in the Western world, including the highest minimum drinking age in the entire world. 17 And this is buttressed by a public policy of Zero Tolerance.

Many lives would be saved if everyone abstained from alcohol.
Some lives would be saved from accidents now caused by intoxication and from health problems caused by alcohol abuse. However, many other lives would be lost from increases in coronary heart disease. For example, estimates from 13 studies suggest that as many as 135,884 additional deaths would occur each year in the US from coronary heart disease alone because of abstinence. [see Alcohol & Health]

Although not totally incorrect, but certainly not the whole truth, is the assertion that the younger children are when they have their first drink the more likely they are to experience drinking problems.
Generally speaking, people who on their own begin drinking either much earlier or much later than their peers begin are more likely to experience subsequent drinking problems. This appears to result from the fact that either behavior tends to reflect a tendency to be deviant. Therefore, delaying the age of first drink would not influence the incidence of drinking problems because it would not change the underlying predisposition to be deviant and to experience drinking problems. And, of course, children who are taught moderation by their parents are less likely to abuse alcohol or have drinking problems.

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2006 at 9:33 am

We are watching this closely from across The Bay. This is not ok and not the message that we have all been working so hard to send to our students.

Is this another parent that just wants to be "popular" with her child. Did she feel she had to serve her child and her child's friends that they wouldn't partake somewhere else? I am truly interested in the parent's side of this.

Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:01 pm

attendee writes..."I think there's a lot of social norming going on here. If parents think kids are going to drink regardless of whether they permit it or not, and if they think that many parents share their views, it is not surprising that they are open to the idea of "supervised" teen drinking. I think Stovel and Swagerty are victims of social norming. Palo Alto definitely has an obsession with teenage delinquency, and when article after article and "Most of Us" survey after "Most of Us" survey reach the public, people are inclined to make decisions accordingly."

This is fascinating, really. Here we have a young Palo Alto citizen who cogently uses the "social norming" argument to oaint teens, the community, and parents as victims - what's new?(oh, don't we all just love after-the-fact-intelletual-rationalizations in Palo Alto?)

Perhaps "attendee" should try to understand that limits to behavior are not necessarily a bad thing.

It's amazing how well Palo Alto parents, and even teens, spin away from this as a problem.

The fact that we have a culture here that accepts kids drinking isn't a result of "social norming", it's a result of a primal fear of not being "loved" by your kids, even if keeping that love means enabling them to engage in behavior that not infrequently leads to things like future addiction, profound personal angst, and/or premature death.

A few things: The facts in this case have yet to be fully revealed. My sense is that the parents were well-menaing, but acting ignorantly, forgetting that their behavior is enabling potential problems. Why couldn't they just say "NO!" to drinking by minors in their home? This is a sad commentary on the personal responsibility (forget the law for a moment) on their part, and the part of ANY parent who condones and enables this sort of thing.

I want to make it clear that I'm not judging their behavior, but I do have strong feelings about enabling bad habits in ANYONE, no less teens, who (and this is a fact) do not yet even have key part of their brains fuly matured - one of those parts has to do with future consequence from current actions. This is a FACT. Given that FACT, why do we permit young persons to drink, or even to drive at age 16?

Another thing, mentioned earlier. Palo Alto has done almost NOTHING, FOR YEARS, to encourage commercial activity in this town that caters to teens in a way that would draw teens in.

Most of the attempts have been feeble, creating this or that venue that don't resonate with where teens live - in their heads, or with their peer groups.

The fact that the people are being villified as monsters in this forum is PATHETIC! They made a mistake, and hopefully will learn from it; leave them alone and stop making gross generalizations about their behavior and villifying them for mistakes in a way that shame and cause guilt. Anyone who makes generalizations about the personal negative worth of the parents involved is simply making the problem worse.

In mnay ways, even allowing for all the upscale wealth, privilege, and accomplishment displayed by our citizens, Palo Alto has its own problems with municipal pathologies. This is one of them.

It will be interesting to see if our City Council and BOE get going on providing some policy guidance on these issues, and start looking for ways to provide multiple outlets for teen activity.

Getting drunk at 16 is NOT healthy; getting frunk at ANY age is not healthy. Alcoholism is a DISEASE that gets started from exposure to alcohol.

Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:26 pm

Concerned Parent from across the Bay - You're not watching this very closely, based on your statements and questions.

Shocked Parent - your black/white, legal/illegal rant is simplistic and tiresome. It suggests the following regarding you personally:

1. You are blameless and perfect in all matters moral and legal, and therefore well-suited to sitting in judgment of others, and/or
2. When you do make mistakes, you'd be willing to accept the kind of public scrutiny and criticism that you are so willing to dish out behind the anonymity of this forum.

Posted by Over-the-hill mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:41 pm

Thanks very much to the teens who've been posting here! I wish my kids would bring their friends to our house more often, so I could hear their points of view. I think most kids believe that all parents are remote and absolutist, like some of the silly "adults" who've written here, so they don't bother to communicate. Some of us DO remember what it was like to be teenagers, but we know the world you're growing up in is different from that of our youth, and we want to talk about it!! I've lost interest in the original subject of this thread but have discovered I'm very interested in hearing what the kids have to say. Fellow parents: What say you? Can you stop lecturing long enough to LISTEN?

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:45 pm

I submit when a local elementary school teacher is cited for contributing to the delinquency of minors, that's news

Posted by Mother of Two
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 3, 2006 at 4:29 pm

Does anyone know what the BOE has decided anything about Lisa Swagerty? Is she still teaching?

Posted by partygoer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2006 at 4:54 pm

I'm supporting Ms Swagerty all the way by going to the next party she'll be hosting. Does anyone know when? I'll sign up as a designated driver and wait outside while they drink it all up inside. Cheers!

Posted by Molly T.
a resident of University South
on Nov 3, 2006 at 5:01 pm

To parents and teens: If you'd like to share your thoughts on Lisa Swagerty, the party and what action you think PAUSD should or should not take, I welcome your calls and e-mails for a Palo Alto Weekly story.

My phone number is 326-8210 x241 and my e-mail address is [email protected]

I look forward to hearing from you!

Molly Tanenbaum
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer

Posted by James
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2006 at 11:03 am

If you people so crusader-like against teen drinking/sex/drug abuse (speaking to all the people who are coward enough not to show their names) then why don't you look at the big freaking picture rathen than focusing on this one problem, if you want to stop this is problem showing an example IS NOT going to help. As stated before by the party goers, there were a mulitude of other parites going around. I for a fact know that the PAPD likes to stretch the truth in such a way to get people they think or dislike to go to JUV/Jail. My brother is one such case, while he is guilty of many things drinking included i welcome the PAPD to arrest him as he should not be drinking and disobeying the law, but Jesus people get a grip, twisiting the truth in such a way to get people for other things than the acts they have committed. While i have attented Palo Verde, and know that many teachers there are nice and sweet people i know that if any teacher there was hosting a party for teenagers to get drunk?, instead of a place where it could get severely out of hand and lose another young life then heck, go for it! Even if we come down on this issue like a ton of concrete it is still not going ot end it, since the dawn of civilization people have been drinking, because while life may be good sometimes most of the time it is hard and frustrating even for teens and they will always somtimes want to drown misieres or do it for fun in alchol. Nothing you can do will stop that.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 4, 2006 at 11:27 am

"And to the comment (Shocked_Parent) who said that Nieleplo's quotes are fact, they are NOT. I can name over five examples of his assumptions that are in fact incorrect. I have already contacted the Palo Alto police department because I was outraged at the number of innaccuracies in the quotes they provided to the press.

Posted by Ariana Snow, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:08 pm"

I hope for the sake of the Palo Alto Police Department's credibility that this isn't a repeat of the arrest of the guy who ran a child care service. After his arrest for sexually abusing a child a number of damning statements were made by PAPD detectives. After an exhaustive investigation it was determined that instead of spermazoa on the child's face, it was shaving cream. All charges were dropped but the guy's life and career were ruined.

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2006 at 11:51 am

To skepticAl,

Thank you. You hit the problem right where you should have. I keep picturing Shocked_parent with a halo being held up by a ramrod straight pole right down her back. I wonder how comfortabe it is. What will she ever do if it should slip?

Posted by PA resident and parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2006 at 4:46 pm

Why on earth does it matter that an elementary teacher and her husband were monitoring the party. Is this yet another knife in teachers' backs? Good grief! I had no idea that becoming a teacher obliged one to give up the right to a private life? Or to be required to lead a life of overweening rectitude? I certainly don't want my children taught by someone with such a narrow perspective on life.

Would "shocked" be as shocked if the parent were a plumber, or a corporate director? Would the self-righteous in Palo Alto be calling for the plumber or the director's employer to censure them, or fire them? I doubt it. This double standard is absurd. Parents, supervising your kids' freetime is YOUR responsiblity--not the school's.

As is typical, the Palo Alto PD is yet again playing to the moral indignation of the vocal few.

Posted by PA resident and parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2006 at 4:48 pm

Why on earth does it matter that an elementary teacher and her husband were monitoring the party. Is this yet another knife in teachers' backs? Good grief! I had no idea that becoming a teacher obliged one to give up the right to a private life? Or to be required to lead a life of overweening rectitude? I certainly don't want my children taught by someone with such a narrow perspective on life.

Would "shocked" be as shocked if the parent were a plumber, or a corporate director? Would the self-righteous in Palo Alto be calling for the plumber or the director's employer to censure them, or fire them? I doubt it. This double standard is absurd. Parents, supervising your kids' freetime is YOUR responsiblity--not the school's.

As is typical, the Palo Alto PD is yet again playing to the moral indignation of the vocal few.

Posted by counselor
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2006 at 11:29 pm

It appears that “Anon” got his/her “facts” from the following website:
Web Link

I’d encourage people to check out some other facts as follows:

- According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2005, 16,885 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes - an average of one almost every half-hour. These deaths constituted approximately 39 percent of the 43,443 total traffic fatalities.

- Minors drink as much as 20 percent of all the alcohol consumed in America, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. And, each day, 7,000 children in the U.S. under 16 take their first drink, according to the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free.

- In the United States, drinking is "teen America's fatal attraction," to quote the words of Joseph A. Califano, chairman of the Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. "Beer and alcohol are implicated in the three top causes of teen deaths: accidents (including traffic fatalities and drowning), homicide, and suicide."

- Yes, moderate drinking may be good for the heart, but according to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency, 105,000 Americans die annually from alcohol-related causes which could include everything from falls to drunk driving accidents to cirrhosis of the liver.

- The ACS Cancer Prevention Study (CPS II) confirmed that alcohol is indeed an important risk factor for breast cancer, at least when researchers looked at women who died of the disease. Study authors reported that less than one drink a day on average increased a postmenopausal woman’s chances of dying from breast cancer by 30% compared to women who did not consume any alcohol. Postmenopausal women who had one drink or less per day had a 30% higher rate of dying from breast cancer, compared to women who didn't drink at all. Women who drank more had a 40% increased risk of death from breast cancer.

- People who begin drinking by 15 years of age are four times as likely to become alcohol dependent as those who wait until age 21. ( October 23, 2006)

I’d like to hear how the kids and parents who commented here might change their views if they

- were arrested for a DUI

- had an abusive alcoholic parent, child, spouse, friend

- saw a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome

- watched someone die from cirrhosis of the liver

- knew someone who committed suicide while drunk

- knew someone who died of an alcohol overdose

- knew someone who killed themselves or others while driving under the influence

- knew someone who lost job, family, home – everything – because of alcohol abuse

Read the papers and you’ll see stories about such tragedies every day. I saw them all firsthand. I’m not a parent, not a teen, not a member of a temperance union. I’m a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

Yes, kids, adults are often hypocrites about drinking and a lot of other things. Yes, newspapers go for sensational stories and police exaggerate. Yes, it’s wrong to judge without the facts. But, forgetting about the Swagerty party, alcohol abuse can be a huge problem. Drop in to an AA meeting or an Al-Anon meeting some day and check it out for yourself.

Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 5, 2006 at 2:08 pm

Ah, I was waiting for the counselors to come out. Anyone with problems who is in pain will self medicate in a variety of ways: alcohol, shopping, gambling and now even the internet. These are avenues of escape from pain in life. Good counseling and mental healthcare helps people in pain deal with the horrific reality of their lives, bad counseling is about blame and abdication of responsibility. I do not think anyone here has expressed the opinion that these kids were in pain. I also have heard counselors express the opinion that anyone who drinks has a problem. Personally, I think if anyone has that black and white a view of the world they have the problem.

But this is about the law and social norms and how they have collided between various people here in PA not about drinking problems.

Posted by Chelsea
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 5, 2006 at 10:07 pm

I grew up in Palo Alto, graduated from Gunn High School am now a sophomore at Pomona College. I would like to give you my perspective on drinking in high school, as such an opinion has not thus far been provided by a college student on this blog. Here at Pomona, most people I know, including myself, drink between a few times a week and a few times a month. And yes, people sometimes get really trashed, and yes they occasionally get sick, and yes, these sick people are, with the exception of the rare tragedy, taken care of. And yes, these drinking people are extremely bright, thoughtful, and charismatic students at Pomona College, one of the most highly regarded liberal arts colleges in the country. The point here is that drinking is not such a bad thing and people who choose to drink are usually not the lazy, irresponsible and unintelligent people they are made out to be! And I hope this is obvious, but Pomona College is not the only institution of higher education where this occurs. People drink, sometimes heavily and irresponsibility, at respected universities and colleges across the country. And it is OKAY! People mature during and after college and getting wasted every weekend quickly looses its appeal. It's just a stage people need to go through. Every culture in the world has figured this out! That said, most people here at Pomona, and most of the party attendees from what I have read, are already mature, responsible drinkers who drink to loosen up and have a good time. Most people try to avoid drinking to the point of throwing up if they can at all help it. And of course, everyone here, and I'm sure everyone at the party, knows that there are many ways to have a good time without getting near beer or vodka. (This said, no one can deny that alcohol IS a superb social lubricant and will thus still be desired in certain social situations.)

What I have written above pertains primarily to college and not high school, but drinking occasionally during one's junior and senior year of high school needs not be such a bad thing. I personally did not drink in high school, but many of my friends at Gunn did, and many of my friends at Pomona drank in high school as well. My high school experience easily could have included moderate amounts of responsible drinking given slight tweaking of a few factors. And since people ARE going to experiment with drinking in high school (the argument that they law can do anything about this is completely unrealistic, as Anon's Nov. 2 post reveals), it only makes sense for this to happen in a safe environment such as the one that Stovel and Swagerty provided. The only real potential beasts of high school drinking are drinking over ones limits and having to make it home while not sober. However, if the host (and his or her parents!) and attendees are vigilant in ensuring that all students are carefully looked after and that no student who has been drinking is allowed to drive him or herself home, as was the case at the party, then these are not issues.

I urge everyone who is concerned about this issue to do a reality check. Put aside fantasies of Palo Alto students never drinking and misconceptions of only slackers enjoying the occasional party at which alcohol is present. Acknowledge the fact that older Palo Alto teens do drink and will continue to find ways to do so regardless of the law or the desires of their parents. And finally, consider and support realistic options that will allow older Palo Alto teens to enjoy drinking in a safe environment.

Posted by paly student
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Nov 6, 2006 at 2:20 am

Are you kidding me? I got halfway through this blog before I just had to comment. This is a bunch of ridiculous banter that has to stop. Shocked Parent, you are UNBELIEVABLY ignorant, and will you please get that stick out of your ass? I was not in attendance at this party, because I had better things to do, BABYSIT, but I heard all about it in the weeks that followed, and I can tell you that THERE WAS NOT puke all over the house and the house WAS NOT trashed. Do you really not have anything better to do than sit and scrutanize others from your high horse? GET OVER IT. I hope your precious kids throw a fat kegger at your house for you to find just so you get the experience of the situation many other caring parents are put into. It was a halloween party.
Also, to other parents, NO DRUNK STUDENT INTENDED ON DRIVING HOME. When teens go out to drink, which isn't as often as you think, there is ALWAYS a friend there to remain sober and get everyone home safely, and why do you think that saferide was created? I have yet to hear of any girl being raped or drugged, and most high school students are THOUSANDS of times more responsible drinking than your average college student and even some adults.
Where would you rather have your kids drink? Is a park at midnight better? or how about in the San Fransquito Creek? The facts are, high school students drink, so you can either have them safe at home or near home, or you can have them running around the streets, sitting at creepy parks or hanging out in sketch neighborhoods. Just think about it and stop running your mouth with your inexperienced worries.

Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2006 at 10:33 am

paly student, you appall me.

Posted by WithHeld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2006 at 3:52 pm

Paly Student,

You may "think" that you are the picture of a responsible teen, I can tell you you are certainly not the picture of a respectful one! Speaking for those who have been as you put it, "running your mouths with your inexperienced worries," I hate to be the one to break it to you but, the adults around you are not so inexperienced. We were all teens once and some of have even drank with our friends in some of those places you describe. Drinking in a park or a graveyard (which I did back in the day) is not great scenario but, that doesn't mean the living room of our parents' house is any better. Yes, teens drink but years from now I guarantee all of you are going to look back on your insistence that you should do so and wonder why you thought that was such a great thing or a big deal. Given the unbelievably disrespectful nature of your posting though, I have a feeling that underage drinking isn't going to be the only thing from your youth that you'll regret.

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2006 at 4:06 pm

Dear withHeld,

A young adult cared enough to give an opinion. It may not be what you wanted to hear. But it was honest, and didn't deserve your disdain, and rude response. If you want things to change,listen to our young adults with an open mind.

Posted by WithHeld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2006 at 5:05 pm

Dear Mother,

Do you seriously condone a young person telling an elder of their's or anyone else "to please get that stick out of your ass?" Yes, paly student has a right to his or her opinion but, paly student is also a child and could show a little respect in expressing it. You'll notice another parent (Paly Parent) posted a message simply stating, "paly student, you appall me." Where's your attack for that poster?

Look, obviously you are Paly Student's mom or you wouldn't be so worked up over this. There are a lot of wonderful teens out there in the world doing great things and preparing to do great things. You frequently hear that kids are growing up so fast --- too fast. In many respects, that's true. In some respects, the same teen issues exist today that existed when you and I were in high school, one of them is teen drinking, another one was teen arrogance. I saw both of those things in Paly student's posting. Yes, open a dialogue, yes talk and give your opinion but there is no need to be vulgar! Arrogance comes with the teen hormones, I remember that well and displayed it myself more than once. You think you have everything figured out and your parents don't know anything. Paly student claims all the drunk kids get taken care of and driven home in his/her crowd. I'm happy to hear the whole "friends don't let friends drive drunk" message has sunk in but, do these kids know what alcohol poisoning looks like? Do they know when to seek medical attention for someone who has had too much? Aside from car accidents do they know the vulnerabilities they are subjecting themselves to when they don't have full control of their faculties in social situations --- date rape being only one of them?

Yes, teens drink -- I did it as a teen, my parents did it and thier parents probably did it. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea or should even be condoned.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2006 at 6:45 pm

I don't think anyone wants this thread to get out of hand, but I have seen vulgar postings from adults as well as teens. If we all keep our opinions polite we will all be taken more seriously. The teens commenting in this forum are welcome in my opinion and for this reason, we as adults should make our opinions language friendly for our younger audience or else we shouldn't be surprised of what they say in return.

One thing that surprises me is that teens have means, opportunity and money to get the alcohol. I grew up in a middle class area, but neither myself or my friends ever had money to smoke, drink, or almost anything else. Just to go to a movie, and busfare would have taken my whole week's allowance and as for eating out, forget it. None of us had the money. All my allowance went on make up, busfares and things like peace sign jewelleryI got a small allowance, smaller than my friends, and even when I did get a job or did some babysitting, the money was saved for things I wanted to do during the summer, like camps or swimming. I didn't feel hard done by, all my friends were the same. The only people I knew who smoke or drank had to steal it from their parents. So my question is, where do the teens get their alcohol from? I may be naive on this one, but to me that is the basis of the argument. Do our teens have too much money.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2006 at 7:42 pm

"Do our teens have too much money.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood"

Interesting question. Because of a job I held in the military and various management positions in civilian life, I attended a number of substance abuse classes. The common perception was the lower economic levels of society were responsible for the majority of alcohol and drug usage. Statistics showed that people who make more money and have higher levels of disposable income are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. With many of Perfect Palo Alto's residents making some pretty serious dough and spreading the wealth around to their kids, it's not surprising that those same kids have enough money to put together some pretty good alcohol fueled parties.

Many of you think that these events are a fairly recent occurrence. Not so. I went to Paly in the early sixties. I attended the same type parties with the same drunks as you see today. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that some of the party kids today are the offspring of some of the people I partied with.

Posted by Shocked_Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 6, 2006 at 7:57 pm

This will be my last post. My cameo appearance hasn't exactly been very productive. All I can say is that it's a lost cause.

I have no words of wisdom because to those who think teen drinking is not a problem, there's no wisdom in any words that say it is. I just hope that none of the teens who associate drinking with partying and the parents who associate teen drinking with normal behavior will ever have to deal with the loss of a loved one or, even worse, the loss of a stranger, at the hands of someone impaired by a few drinks.

Oh, before I forget, mixing drinks is a bad idea. You'll get drunk faster. So, if you must drink for whatever reason, stay on one kind. I personally prefer Scotch but that's a whole different story. :-)

Posted by the appalling Paly Student
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Nov 6, 2006 at 9:51 pm

Ah, Withheld, you are a regular slueth, I am so happy that through your thoughtful speculation over the clearly presented evidence, coupled with your amazing ability of deduction, you have figured out that A Mother, is yes indeed, MY MOTHER!! Please, apply for a job with the PAPD.
True, I should apologize for my rude words earlier, it was early in the morning as I was up doing homework, and I had guessed that the blog overseers would delete that portion, if not my entire comment. It's still there, and I apologize. Next time I will certainly search for better words.
But you really think that drinking in a graveyard or a car is better than in a living room or house? Because I was just thinking, in my house, there's no hobo, mafia or vampire cult member that could hold me at gun point for anything they desire from my inebrated self, be it money, my spirits, or something more valuable.... And also within the compound of my own home I know where the band aids, paper towels, phone, emergency card and my neighbors are, and also I know I am not out wandering the streets drunkenly, possibly running the risk of blacking out on a sidewalk, or getting lost. But hey, that's only my reasoning for it.
Once again, I would like to apologize for coming off as rude and appalling, but I think that everyone here should just relax for a minute. I am sure that in your life you've made some dumb mistakes, some of them you might regret but all of them you have learned from. I certainly have learned to watch what I post online for fear of being smote upon by angry moms.

P.S. I'm legally an adult ^_^

Posted by ^^^^
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Nov 6, 2006 at 9:52 pm


pardon me

Posted by Withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2006 at 10:20 pm

Dear Paly Student,

Please re-read my posts as I said that drinking in a car or a graveyard IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. I know from experience.

Since you're a legal adult (I'm guessing you're 18), I'm hoping you can help me understand something. It's something that puzzles even when looking back at my own teenage years --- why do so many teens seem so desperate to drink alcohol? Don't you guys have anything better to do? Is it because you're not supposed to legally? Is it the thrill of the taboo? I don't understand why I even did it. It certainly wasn't worth the hangovers or embarrassing drunken moments.

If it is the thrill of the taboo, maybe we ought to treat alcohol as the Europeans do. They drink a glass or two with dinner. Unless you happen to visit the continent during World Cup Soccer, alcohol is pretty much treated like another beverage because that's what they consider it to be --- you can even buy it from vending machines in some train stations.

A lot of people on these threads have said, they're going to do it anyway so why not let them do it safely inside a home? What if they were going ingest drugs anyway? Would it be better to let kids do that in a home? It seems like such a cop out argument.

Seriously, this argument could go on and on with people taking all sorts of things personally. Unless there can be some rational talk and some honest dialogue between teens, parents and other adults where questions are posed and answered and productive back and forth can go on without all of the emotion and name calling, there will never be any sort of viable solution.

Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Nov 6, 2006 at 11:00 pm

I have yet to take offense to anything directly said about me, but I have taken offense to things generalized about my peers and myself.
None of my friends are, as you put it, 'desperate' to drink alcohol. We all have plenty of fun things to do where we don't find it necessary to be intoxicated. Every once in a while, the students here need to relax, take a break, and let loose. Sure, there are some kids in existance at my school who drink constantly, but they aren't looked to for examples of how to behave by the rest of the student body.
Exactly as you said, graveyard drinking is not fun and doesn't appeal to any of us. Another thing about drinking in the home is you don't have to go anywhere, you are already safe at home! No driving involved! I'm not 'condoning' this behavior, but it's one of the better options out there for teens who do drink regularly or sparatically.
FYI, I was in Europe at the time of the World Cup, and I have to say the level of irresponsible drinking there was appalling. Sure, it's a time for celebration but most of it was quite out of control. I have never witnessed anything like it here in the states or at any parties or gatherings with my friends.
And when I was over there, I met a girl who wanted to go out and drink because it was legal for her to do so there, just like when she went to mexico she got stoned because marijuana isn't illegal there either. I saw no point in that, and continued to casually drink at bars with my new foreign friends without any problems; she however got sick and suffered from a bad hangover because she didn't know her limits on her alcohol intake. I was fine and can contribute my successful non-overdrinkage to my careful (but not frequent, mind you) practice back at home in the safe company of my own friends.

And you can't quite compare drinking at home with doing drugs at home, I'd say less than 5% of kids in Palo Alto High SchoolS do hard drugs, and again, for the most part, it's up to the parent's personal discretion. I know what my parents expect of me and also what I expect from myself, and I don't intend on letting them or myself down. Alcohol also isn't illegal for the person's entire life, but drugs are.
Maybe if we had a more responsible role model in the President's office, the students here would learn that DUIs can harm one's future... but rather Bush just serves for a bigger, more public example of our parents bailing rich kids out of trouble. (Bush Jr.'s DUI, which also could have potentially included FLYING under the influence, resulted in his leave from the Air Force, but little more...)

So while we're cracking down on teen drinking, why don't we crack down on adult DUIs?

Posted by Withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2006 at 7:05 am

Again, re-read my post -- I did not hold World Cup Soccer up as a responsible drinking experience, "UNLESS you happen to visit the continent during World Cup Soccer..."

Also in re-reading my post myself I realize now I should not have said, "why do so many teens seem so desperate to drink alcohol?" I should have asked, "why are so many teens so insistent on drinking alcohol?" Seriously, what's the big deal in it for you? It's not a criticism, I'm honestly curious. I'm still trying to answer that question for myself when looking back at my own teenage years. Hope you can shed some light on that one for me.

Posted by Withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2006 at 7:07 am

One last thing -- good point about Mr. Bush! :)

Posted by Chelsea
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 7, 2006 at 12:49 pm

Dear Withheld,

You seem to be very curious about why teenagers like to drink. Clearly I should have discussed this in my earlier post. In any case, I would say that the primary reason that people such as myself who drink responsibly (i.e. who get beyond buzzed when they drink, but can still walk fine, remember their evening the next morning, have a very minor hangover if any, and don't feel at all nauseous) drink is because alcohol is a superb social lubricant. Life is awkward, college is awkward, relationships are awkward, and alcohol makes them all less so! It gets people talking and joking, and makes them generally more bold and less self conscious about themselves, which usually translates to all involved having a good time. Hopefully this clears up your question. Let me know if it doesn't!

As for people who drink to the point of being completely smashed and/or sick every weekend, I believe they start out drinking with similar intentions (i.e. to loosen up etc.), but then get carried away and drink too much either because they can't make good decisions when drunk (i.e. the decision to stop drinking) or the play drinking games with their friends that result in them drinking more than they would have liked to. I think people also fall into the trap of thinking that they can't have a good time without getting drunk, although most people I know who come near to this start getting worried about themselves and usually take steps to reduce the amount they drink...

Posted by A Mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2006 at 2:22 pm

Actually, both of my kids are now grown, finished college, and one is married with a child. (I love being a grandmother, just as I have loved raising our own kids.)

When my oldest was in HS, we did find out she went to a party where kids were drinking. We handled the situation, along with the other parents, and the kids all took their lumps. We never had another problem, either with her, or the younger one. We were very lucky. We always showed them (and their friends), the same respect we got from them. Being parents can be tough, but it sure has been the most wonderful experience possible.

It is possible, probable, that we were unaware of some things that went on, but, both kids turned out terrific. As I said we have been very lucky. I suspect that a great many of the parents who have written on this blog have wonderful kids too. And, that many of the young adults have great parents. Palo Alto is indeed a great place to grow up.

Posted by a Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 8, 2006 at 8:26 am

There is an assumption on the part of many people here that drinking in high school is inevitable for everyone. It's not. I attended Gunn years ago and did not drink. It just didn't appeal to me. I was in a group of friends who didn't drink but who had plenty of fun anyway. We had parties without alcohol and managed to relax without it. In college these same friends did not become binge drinkers. They tried alcohol, as I did, and didn't drink more than a small amount. I just don't buy the argument that adults should accept teen drinking because teens will drink anyway. Some will, and some won't. Our job as adults is to model responsible behavior. Teens need to know that it's possible to enjoy parties and each other's company without alcohol. Chelsea says alcohol's a "superb social lubricant," which is true, but it's not essential.

Posted by Across the Bay
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2006 at 1:44 pm

I have an idea, why don't these kids find SOMETHING ELSE TO DO WITH THEIR TIME BESIDES DRINK! would eliminate most of this discussion!

Have these kids/parents take an alcohol education class. No, I don't mean 30 minutes of "Don't Drink and Drive" and "Drink Responsibly."

because ...if anyone knows what alcohol does to the developing brain (yes, your brain is still developing as teenagers), you would realize that the term .........."Drink Responsibly" is an oxymoron.

I suggest you contact:

Ralph Cantor, MA, Alemada County Office of Education

(start with the parents...especially the parents who condone having home parties. I think if they knew what they were really contributing to (long term), they might rethink helping their teenagers catch a cocktail.

Inquire of the program:

Facing the Difficult Truth:
The Teen Culture and Social
Scene that Enables Drug and
Alcohol Use

Trust me...I'm bumbling around and making plenty of my own mistakes ...but that educational meeting by Dr. Cantor was an eye opener!

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2006 at 5:59 pm

I think what makes me so angry about these parent sponsored drinking parties is that they are making the decision to allow teens to drink when they have no right to do so. It's a powerful drug and it's against the law. To allow your own children to drink is one thing but to have the audacity to permit other minors to drink in your home is outrageous. I found out after my kids were in college that they had been drinking at their friends houses while in high school. No one ever asked if it was O.K. with me.

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2006 at 6:00 pm

I think what makes me so angry about these parent sponsored drinking parties is that they are making the decision to allow teens to drink when they have no right to do so. It's a powerful drug and it's against the law. To allow your own children to drink is one thing but to have the audacity to permit other minors to drink in your home is outrageous. I found out after my kids were in college that they had been drinking at their friends houses while in high school. No one ever asked if it was O.K. with me.

Posted by Another parent ---
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2006 at 1:03 am

Well, I'd like to inject some facts into the discussion. When you are 21 years old or older, you are assumed to be under the influence if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or above. If you are under 21, the required BAC to be deemed under the influence needs only be above 0.01. This means that someone who had just a few sips of beer to drink could be "legally" drunk because of a BAC of over 0.01, without being effectively drunk at all.

This would explain kids failing the breathanalyzer test at the party, even though they would not be drunk... they would still end up labeled as "drunk" by the officers and in the article.

The fact of the matter, and I know I will shock some people here, is that the current California laws regarding underage drinking are unduly and overly harsh. They don't make sense and are only the result of intense lobbying by M.A.D.

Posted by Withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2006 at 7:09 am

Dear Chelsea,

You are right, I am curious as to why teens drink. A lot of the posters on this board keep asking how to make them stop but, I think in order to do that you need to first answer, "why is it happening to begin with? I don't mean to be critical but the following statement of yours really concerns me and smacks of addiction whether you think you're being responsible or not.

"...alcohol is a superb social lubricant. Life is awkward, college is awkward, relationships are awkward, and alcohol makes them all less so! It gets people talking and joking, and makes them generally more bold and less self conscious about themselves, which usually translates to all involved having a good time."

Chelsea if you need alcohol to get through a social situation, how long will it be before you need it to get through a business situation or through the day? Yes, life is awkward at times, college is awkward --- anything can be awkward but, part of growing into a mature adult is to deal with that awkwardness and work your way through it, not drink to loosen up! Anyone who can't deal with you on sober level is not worth your time.

You've made me see that kids drinking today is a by product of our nation of excess. Good luck to you and be careful out there.

Posted by GreenerPastures
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2006 at 3:10 am

As a recent Palo Alto emigrant (born and raised), let me just say to my TRUE fellow townsmen...
GET OUT! GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN! The Yuppies snuck in in the middle of the night and pulled the wool over our eyes! They control the media, the police, and now their evil eye has turned its gaze on the board of education! RUN! PACK YOUR BAGS AND LEAVE NOW! Do not let they're judgmental and self-righteous jargon fall upon your ears as it will turn you into a gooey substance upon which they will lay their Yuppy eggs!

P.S. Don't take the highways! They are gaurded by the high horses with which they rode in on!

Posted by Withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2006 at 6:09 am

Dear GreenerPastures,

Ok, ok ... you first. We're right behind you, I SWEAR! LOL!!! Just lead the way we're coming.

Posted by GreenerPastures
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2006 at 10:13 am

Nope, nope, your type will undoubtedly reamin behind to sew salt into our soils and ensure that nothing wholesome ever prospers in Palo Alto again.

By the way, my compliments to hulkamania for the clever posting name. It is creativity and execution such as yours that keeps this world turning

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2006 at 7:48 pm

To A Mother: You say that Paly Student, a young adult who cared enough to give an opinion, didn't deserve Withheld's "disdain and rude response."

You expect us to have respect for a kid who writes, "you are UNBELIEVABLY ignorant, and will you please get that stick out of your ass?" If that's the only way he/she can express an opinion, disdain is the only reasonable response.

Mother, you are part of the problem.

Paly Student, thank you for following up on your original message with more thoughtful comments. When you communicate in a resoned way, people will be more likely to hear your message and not react to the tone in which you deliver it. That goes for adults, too. BTW, adults do get arrested for DUIs. Problem is, very few get caught and many are repeat offenders. In some countries you lose your license on your first DUI. We're very lenient in this country. For CA DUI laws, check out

Web Link

To Chelsea, who says, "the current California laws regarding underage drinking are unduly and overly harsh." In the 1960's and 70's sonme states lowered the drinking age from 21 to 18. In many of these states, there was a significant increase in teen highway deaths. In 1982, 55% of all fatal crashes involving youth drivers involved alcohol. When the legal age went back to 21, teen deaths in fatal car crashes dropped - in some cases up to 28%. (From 1997 Youth Fatal Car Crash and Alcohol Facts. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

Posted by anon
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 18, 2006 at 11:08 am

Christmas is coming, and I have found this wonderful recipe that I hope will make everyone on this overlong thread feel better.

Recipe for Christmas Rum Cake


1 or 2 quarts rum
1 cup butter
1 tsp. sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups dried assorted fruit

1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups chopped English walnuts

"Before you start, sample the rum to check for quality. Good, isn't it? Now select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. Check the rum again. It must be just right. Be sure the rum is of the highest quality. Pour one cup of rum into a glass and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat. With an electric mixer, beat one cup butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 seaspoon of tugar and beat again. Meanwhile, make sure the rum teh absolutely highest quality. Sample another cup. Open second quart as necessary. Add 2 orge laggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat untill high. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters, just pry it loose with a screwdriver. Sample the rum again, checking for toncisticity. Next sift 3 cups of baking powder, a pinch of rum, a seaspoon of toda and a cup of pepper or salt (it really doesn't matter). Sample some more. Sift ¾ pint of lemon juice. Fold in schopped butter and strained chups. Add bablespoon of brown gugar, or whatever color you have. Mix mell. Grease oven and turn cake pan to 350 gredees and rake until poothtick comes out crean."

—Author Unknown

Posted by Lisa
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2006 at 10:06 pm

Wow. It seems like this incident has served to highlight what is clearly an ongoing problem in Palo Alto (more so than other communities?). I live in Reno, town of all night casinos, but I am shocked and saddened that there are parents who will allow other people's children to engage in ILLEGAL ACTIVITY in their homes. I would expect that people (adults and children alike) who live in Palo Alto, a notoriously affluent city containing within its limits one of the finest educational establishments in the world, would be well-educated enough to know that permitting ILLEGAL ACTIVITY sends the wrong message. If the facts bear it, it is my opinion that prosecution of the parents who allowed consumption of alcohol is the only proper course.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 1, 2006 at 12:49 am

What I have encountered in Palo Alto are parents who equate their childrens foray's into drinking to their own back in their high school days. They don't want to say anything too judgemental, after all, they don't want to appear hypocritical.

Back in the seventies, I attended Palo Alto High School parties. There was beer, and wine, remember Boones Farm? Some kids got drunk, some kids got stoned. Back then, a lot rode bicycles about town, sometimes, almost as many who drove. A lot of kids still walked to their destinations. Palo Alto was a smaller, friendlier place then. Yes, partying by the underaged happened, but it wasn't pervasive.

In the eighties, I put my step daughter through high school. I noticed that the drinking escalated to younger grades, and to beer, and Schnapps. Again, some drunkeness, and more kids with cars. There were some drugs, but again, it wasn't wide spread.

In the 90's and 2000's, some five kids through the school district later, I noticed that the drinking age dropped all the way to Jordan Middle schoolers! The choice of booze changed too, from beer and wine, to vodka and red bull. Used to be, vodka was the end run of the chronic alcoholic. Now, it's the starting choice of teens who drink. More kids with cars, more powerful cars. Bad mix, I think.

Now, it's binge drinking. It's drink until you pass out, or black out. It's meth, it's LSD. Ecstasy. Think there is no LSD problem at Paly? Do your homework, you'll find out. I believe there have already been at least two recent Paly Graduate deaths from alcoholism. Kids in their twenties.

The attitude of the students on here amuses me, such defensiveness in these kids. That is because they ARE kids. Wait until they become parents, and it's their turn to sit up sick with worry about their children. By the time they get to that point in their lives, I wonder what will be the new drug of choice, and how much farther beyond binge drinking and drug taking and Ecstasy popping their kids will take it? How much farther CAN it go?

Get real. No matter who you are, these things are not good for you, whether you are 17, or 70, if you indulge in excess. If you are as grown up and mature as you like to portray, then you would know this.

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