The recent suspension of 19 Los Altos High School students for drinking alcohol while on field trips was unfortunate but underscores the need for vigilance on the part of adult chaperons, parents and other students.
The Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District has been taking the appropriate steps in the wake of the suspensions. Administrators are amending permission slips for such trips. The forms previously stated that students must conform to district policies without saying what those policies were.
According to Superintendent Rich Fischer, the new contract will explicitly spell out district policies so that students and parents should have no questions about behavior expectations.
District officials also are revising contracts for chaperons so that they are more fully aware of what their responsibilities are.
While it's obvious to us that use of drugs and alcohol are no-nos, putting it squarely in print alerts students and parents to the seriousness of the actions and says the district means business.
It should be noted the high school district sponsors at least 200 field trips annually without incident. This speaks to the responsibility undertaken by students, parents and chaperons.
However, two "bad-apple" trips - one by student newspaper staff members, the other by track students at an invitational meet - force the district's hand.
For such problems to be fully addressed, everyone has to share in the responsibility and do something about it. This means parents and chaperons, as well as students, have to accept the consequences of such violations as student drinking, and not be dismissive of such actions.
Seniors who drank while on the field trips will lose some senior privileges. How could any high school student claim ignorance of the law which sets the minimum drinking age at 21?
In the wake of these suspensions, we're encouraged district officials are working with PTA members, students, teachers, parents and administrators to review the current code of conduct.
In addition to rules regarding alcohol and drug use, the revised code will likely contain guidelines for appropriate dress while on campus, district policy on use of language, public displays of affection and cheating.
Coming down hard seems unfair to those directly involved, but doing so shows respect for the vast majority of students who are playing by the rules.