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PA Teacher "Party House"

Original post made by Amy, Old Palo Alto, on Oct 30, 2006

Is anyone else stunned by the stupidity here? To host a party with alcohol, with teens not even able to stand, let alone vomiting throughout the house and yard. I am disgusted and angry. Don't these parents (and a teacher??) realize that these kids are facing enough peer pressure that to have adults virtually condone this behavior is ignorant AND dangerous. I am glad they were cited and that there names were published. Shame on you both.

Comments (12)

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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 30, 2006 at 5:29 pm

On the reports, this sounds terrible. However, we don't want to condemn someone without knowing all the facts. Lisa Swagerty has been at Palo Verde School for many years and is a well liked and trustworthy teacher. This sounds so out of character that I would like everyone to wait and hear her side of the story before judging her too harshly. Even if this was just parents, I would say the same thing. The fact that Mrs. Swagerty is a teacher as well as a parent makes it even more important not to jump in too soon. And think what it must be doing to her students and their families, and to the school community as a whole.

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Posted by Deborah Kurland
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:41 am

For the past four years I have been part of the Palo Alto Community Collaborative. Our mission is to help reduce underage drinking and drug use. As part of our campaign, we have surveyed students in both the middle and high schools as well as parents. Our Spring 2006 data reflects 4,676 student voices from our schools. Of these, 388 students reported that their parents allow them and their friends to drink alcohol in their homes. Exactly, 4,252 middle and high schools students (91%) surveyed stated that their parents do not allow them or their friends to drink at home.

I agree that we should never judge without awareness of all the facts. Serving alcohol to minors is against the law. Concern is warranted when the health and safety of our teens is at risk and hopefully, many conversations with each other will be generated from this incident. If anyone is interested in joining our Community Collaborative to help keep our teens safe, please contact me.

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

Thank you, Deborah, for providing us with some facts. By far, most parents do not permit underage drinking here.
Some parents, like me, appear to be receiving ridicule on another thread about this party when we state that not all Palo Alto teens get drunk/high. I think they think we are naive. Apparently, a lot of us do respect the law. I have been sorry to learn about the cynical, casual attitude of some writers (parents,mostly?) on the other thread. Even if you think me naive, surely parents should follow the law and have household rules that follow the law. Or is it a hands off parenting style that's best, students can do whatever they want on a whim?
Sure, some students are breaking the law, some parents in effect condone it (maybe even with lax attitudes, looking the other way), and what I wonder is why the police didn't enforce the law against the fleeing teens/drunk teens at this recent party? Note I do not include the sober teens who were there. Will other teens also receive this generous treatment if caught in future? In the interest of fairness, that should be the case, but what message does this send?

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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Nov 1, 2006 at 12:59 pm

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

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Posted by E Class
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 2, 2006 at 6:29 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.

2 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 3, 2006 at 8:17 am

The facts about the party remain that 2 people, who are parents of a teenage girl and teachers in our community, hosted a party where a lot of underage teenagers drank. The parents had a responsibility to uphold the law and not allow underage teens to drink and they failed to do that. The fact that none of these teens were injured or killed is just luck. Had something tragic happened these parents would have to take the responsibility. They were just lucky that no one was hurt. There are reasons we have laws that prohibit young people from drinking. Alchoholism is a serous problem in our societly. It causes illness and death, ruins jobs, marriages and entire lives and it can take years to overcome. To ignore these facts is just plain stupid.

2 people like this
Posted by DJ
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 9, 2006 at 6:08 pm

Although I have also posted a comment related to this on another thread, I feel strongly about this issue - & so will also comment here. Yes, I agree that we need to have ALL of the facts in place. Innocent until proven quilty, etc. But if there was drinking @ that party, then the teacher should be terminated. And "Gee, I didn''t know" should never be accepted as an excuse. Any teacher that would allow a party held in her home to be attended by drinking teenagers - even if she didn't provide the alcohol - is irresponsible beyond stupidity. As the father of 2 middle schoolers, I would NEVER want such an [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]in the classroom with my children. Just because nothing horrible happened (such as a car accident) doesn't mean this couple should not be arrested. They were lucky, but should still be held fully accountable.

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Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 9, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Regarding the teacher/party hostess: let's just say the silence from the school district (and the principal of her school) on this matter is deafening.

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Posted by Another Palo Alto parent--
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2006 at 1:08 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.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2006 at 2:00 pm

It seems like the focus has been almost completely on the adults who permitted the party to take place, not on our teens' desire to drink too much. Teens who want to drink alcohol will find a place to do so. I overheard my daughter telling someone on the phone recently that some students showed up at the homecoming dance, obviously drunk. Didn't the chaperones notice? When younger teens see older ones acting like this and getting away with it, they begin to see it as normal behavior.

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Posted by Judy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2006 at 1:53 pm

I am wanting to hear from parents - what was their first reaction to this story. I have raised three children, and it only takes one to go in the wrong direction. All were raised the same, good family values, and with a good education will make correct decisions. But not the case. I have had the experience of being called at 12:30 am (police asking me to come to the department and pick up my "under age son.") I have gone to the Counseling Center (mentioned in the article). It was a long haul because TOUGH LOVE requires consistency and hard work. I now feel I want to go to various High Schools and talk with very real honesty about what teenagers need to hear.
I then read this article where the "parents" want to encourage sensible drinking habits. Please wake up and look at these sentences. Alcohol is addictive. I also know that the habits are inheritant. I wish we were talking about a group of kids experiencing the "example" of the parents exhibiting the way to treat others LIKE YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. I want to HAVE TEENAGERS LEARN HOW TO ACCEPT THE DIFFERENCES OF THEIR PEERS. I am hoping for a positive result from this incident. Is there anyone else in the community that is on my side? Teens are wonderful, creative and talented individuals. I want to support the positive examples that might be placed before them.
If I were teaching in the District, I would want understand what Lisa Swagerty hoped to accomplish (as a leader or an example?)

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Posted by AnotherPalyParent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 12, 2006 at 2:00 am

My daughter went to that party that Saturday night. I seldom give her permission to attend parties, and what happened is exactly why.

A Palo Alto Police officer called and spoke to me about my daughter, and asked if I wished to come pick her up. I said no, that I wanted her to drive home. The officer said she would give my kid a breathalyzer test, then upon passing, let my daughter drive home. I agreed. I trusted my daughter that she hadn't been drinking, but all the same, if she had, I wanted to know if we have a problem. In fact, I called my daughter on her cell phone and told her to take it immediately, so she could leave quickly.

The officer was professional and pleasant, my daughter passed the test, and came home safely with no incident.

I am glad that the police dept. is taking these party calls seriously. This is the fourth kid I have put through this school system, and I cannot recount how many parties my other kids, or their friends, attended in the past, where the parents were HOME and allowed underage drinking, and more. Kids passed out, kids vomiting, kids driving home drunk.

From another party, another year, I actually have pictures on my computer downloaded from my daughters camera showing drunken kids toasting one another with beer cans outside on someones patio at a SOPHOMORE party, and in the background, you can see the parents in the livingroom. I was really not very happy about that at all. She begged me not to call those parents and give them the piece of my mind I was so close to sharing. I now wish, I hadn't relented.

I have lived in Palo Alto a long time and have seen the denial of many of the parents. I told parents personally when kids showed up drunk at my home only to be treated like I was the person in the wrong. I know parents who won't check their kids MYSPACE because it is 'prying'. If these parents started really checking into what some of these kids are up to every weekend, and what they also put on their MYSPACE, they would see we have a real problem in this City. Drug and alcohol problems, and promiscuity are displayed there for all to see.

I am no Puritan, but I think our kids have enough problems they will have to face in their lifetimes without getting such a headstart on these bad habits.

I this article will bring more parents some awareness of the possible consequences that can be visited upon them when they allow kids to engage in such destructive behavior in their homes.

When choosing which parties I allow my child to attend, that position of parental responsibility would have come into play, and how disappointing that it still somehow winds up being a bad decision.

I forgot to add that we hosted a party ONE TIME at our home, and when it started to get out of hand, and we couldn't get the kids to listen, we called the police on our own HOME to get the help we needed. THAT cleaned it up, and fast.

You can do this without causing yourself any harm, and it certainly helps prevent any harsher consequences after the fact!


The article states: 'While some parents might permit their underage children and their friends to drink, they would have to drive all the guests home to guarantee their safety, Ryan said. That's virtually impossible with large parties, and they'd still be breaking the law for letting the kids drink.'

I state, that if a parent ALLOWS my kid to drink at their home, even if they later drive her to REHAB, I am going to seek legal remedy.
No parent but myself has the right to decide if my child can drink alcohol or do anything else illegal on their premises.
If my child starts acting up like that, I either expect a phone call home, or at the very least, you ask the kid to leave.
Do NOT provide a safe haven in which to engage in illegal underage activity.

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