published Monday, April 23rd, 2012

7 staffers suspended at Signal Mountain school over alcohol on class trip

Seven staff members at Signal Mountain Middle-High School were suspended because of violating policy on the use of alcohol on a recent senior class trip.

School board Chairman Mike Evatt confirmed the suspensions today.

Two counselors, LeAnn Welch and Anne Cushing, were suspended for the rest of the school year while five other staff members received two-week suspensions without pay. Those individuals included Assistant Principal Jason McKinney, teacher Steve Redman, guidance counselor Leslie Sharpe, college advisor Sandy Mitchum and registrar Lizetta Paturalski.

In a separate case, sixteen students were suspended, at varying lengths, for drinking on the trip. While the drinking age remains 21 on the cruise line, 18 is the minimum drinking age in the Bahamas.

The six-day cruise left from Charleston, S.C., and included port stops in Freeport, Bahamas and Nassau Bahamas before returning to Jacksonville, Fla.

The Hamilton County Board of Education approved the trip with other student field trips at its December meeting as part of its consent agenda.

School leaders requested to take 80 12th-graders on a cruise in early March at a cost of about $940 per student, which was paid for with private donations.

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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