Braintree Students Protest Constructive Posession Policy
by Joseph Walsh
Class of 2016
A group of over thirty Braintree High School students and parents attended the School Committee meeting Monday to protest Braintree High School’s policy on constructive possession.
This gathering follows a September 27th house party where eleven Braintree High School students were charged with either constructive possession or consumption of alcohol.
Seniors Janina Ribeiro, former captain of the Varsity Soccer Team, and Danielle Tressler, former captain of the Varsity Dance Team, spoke to the committee on behalf of the eleven students who received punishment. Both girls were charged with constructive possession and subsequently stripped of their respective captainships.
Tressler and Ribeiro said they were punished despite the fact that they were not drinking, and that they did not get a chance to adequately explain themselves to either law enforcement or school officials
“We understand that the goal of constructive possession is for our own safety and at the end of the day that’s our goal too,” said Tressler. “But it’s about the cost of our safety as well, we are making the right decision and then we’re getting punished the same as people who are not making the right decision… When push comes to shove and something like this happens, at the end of the day everything we worked for didn’t really matter because no one would listen to anything that we said. ”
“We didn’t really get to explain anything,” said Ribeiro. “ Many of us were trying to pick people up, and even if you were trying to remove people from the setting, you still get the same consequences.”
According to Headmaster James Lee, the school followed the standard chemical health policy. Lee also stated that the police report that is sent to the school does not specify between students who were drinking, and students who were present but were not drinking. “We do view the Braintree Police Department as a credible witness,” said Lee.
Since the group was not scheduled to appear at the meeting, legally the committee was not allowed to take any action on this matter until future dates; however, several student representatives to the committee defended their peers.
“This one weekend shouldn’t define all they have worked for for all of their lives,” said student representative Alex Weingart.
Student representative Sarah Murphy cited the MIAA chemical health policy that reads, “This MIAA standard is not intended to render guilt by association… this rule represents only a minimum standard upon which schools may develop more stringent requirements.”
This issue is expected to be on the agenda for the next school committee meeting, which will be on October 20th.
“We will look into this very thoroughly,” assured Mayor Joseph Sullivan.