Thursday, December 9, 1999

Student athlete
sues over suspension
for drinking

He says he was wrongly accused;
his friends say they were the guilty
ones, according to the lawsuit

By Debra Barayuga


A Mililani High School student who claims he was wrongly accused of consuming alcohol at home before attending a school luau is suing the state Department of Education for suspending him for five days.

The student, identified in the suit as Robert P., and his parents Lucille P. and James P., are seeking to clear his record of any references to the suspension, allow him to resume participation in school-related activities including track and a Winter Ball, and make up any missed classwork.

DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen declined comment, saying the department hasn't seen the suit and as a policy does not comment on cases under litigation.

According to the suit, filed in federal court here yesterday, at least two of Robert P.'s friends went to his home Nov. 10 while he dressed for the Senior Luau and consumed alcoholic beverages without his knowledge.

One of the friends who had been drinking got caught at the luau by school chaperones. The chaperones also grilled Robert P., who strongly denied he had consumed alcohol, the suit says.

The following Monday, Principal Robert Ginlack notified him he was being suspended for drinking alcohol at home before attending the luau.

He and his parents were told that instead of a 92-day suspension called for by school rules, he would be suspended for five days with substance-abuse counseling, if his parents signed an agreement that he complete alcohol and drug counseling.

Because of his suspension, Robert P. was barred from all school activities including track, which he hopes will win him a college scholarship. He was not allowed to submit make-up work and was denied an award as "Most Valuable Runner," the suit says.

The suspension will "severely compromise his future scholastic and athletic endeavors," the suit says.

Although Robert P.'s friends offered statements that he had not supplied them with alcohol or consumed any alcohol that night, Ginlack refused to review evidence that would exculpate Robert P., according to the suit. The principal also told him there was no appeal process.

E-mail to City Desk

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