Brandywine Heights School District Trip Ramifications from the Natalee Holloway/Mountain Brook Trip to Aruba
Many have wondered what the impact would be on school sponsored trips to foreign locations or similar type trips that were not sponsored by the school but instead consisted of numerous school age students as its common denominator as in the case of Mountain Brook, AL going to Aruba? The result being the disappearance, mystery and investigation as to what happened to Natalee Holloway.
It has been expected that many such trips such as the one Natalee was on will either never happen again, will be much better supervised or parents will think twice as to allowing their children attend such an event.
We can already see some of the ramifications of the well publicized Natalee Holloway disappearance and backlash of school sponsored travel events in the Brandywine Heights School District-sponsored trip to Spain. Schools are obviously going to have to take a much more proactive stance in the protection of those under their care and do the right thing and stand by those decisions if students can not abide by the rules and act responsible. Such is the case where Spanish teacher Anita L. Lewis left her job at a Brandywine Heights District School on October 21, 2005 citing a lack of support for sending three girls home for breaking rules.
A teacher has quit and some parents have retained an attorney after three teenage girls were sent home from a Brandywine Heights School District-sponsored trip to Spain.
Spanish teacher Anita L. Lewis left her job at the high school on Oct. 21.
Her resignation letter cited a lack of support from the administration following the decision by chaperons to send the girls home from the trip to Spain in June.
The reason why the three girls were sent home from the school sponsored vacation was breaking rules one day into the vacation by leaving their hotel room and had unauthorized guests in their room after curfew.
Students Amanda McCrea, Jackie Sodano and Megan Robb, now seniors, were sent home one day into the week-long trip after they left their hotel room and had unauthorized guests in their room after curfew, according to several sources.
Sources said the girls also did not get up in time to meet the rest of the 27-student group for a tour the next day.
Lewis said the chaperons considered the Holloway matter when deciding to send the Brandywine students home.
“We were thinking, ‘the girls can’t be trusted,’ ” she said. “If they are this bold on the first night, what are we in store for eight nights from now?
“Oftentimes tragedies like this (one in Aruba) begin with some poor judgment, and the girls that were on our trip used extremely poor judgment and trusted strange boys.”
What makes matters even worse in this case and on the foot heels of the Natalee Holloway one in Aruba is that the parents of the three girls now expect to be refunded the cost of the trip in restitution even though they know their daughters broke the rules that were provided to them.
Megan Robb’s father, Daniel, told the Brandywine Heights School Board at a recent public meeting that each family wants $4,000 in restitution: $1,500 for unscheduled airfare home and the $2,500 cost of the trip.
School board solicitor John M. Stott has advised the board that the district doesn’t need to reimburse the families because students on the trip signed a contract acknowledging that they could be sent home for breaking rules.
What a great lesson these parents are providing their children? One would like to think that parents would have sat down and talked with their children when going on such a trip in a post Natalee Holloway/Aruba world? Everyone certainly knows that there has been the opportunity to do so.
The events of the Natalee Holloway disappearance in Aruba provide a platform to discuss these events and how both teenagers and chaperone’s should act in accordance with being in a foreign country. It also provided a platform for parents and their children to discuss responsibility. Please take advantage of it. Whether there was initially a lapse in judgment or being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the case of Natalee Holloway; parents take the time to discuss these things with your children and face the responsibilities yourself if your child breaks the rules. No lapse in judgment or lack of a conversation with your children should ever have to lead to a child’s complete disappearance.
This seems like a good place to start a proper dialog between parents, children and school officials on accountability and responsibility. The end result should be to try to keep put children as safe as we possibly can even knowing that there are some things that our out of our control. This case differs in many ways from the Natalee Holloway disappearance in some way but its still about protecting children.