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Decision to Ban 35 Dixon High Junior Class Leaders From Prom Sparks Outrage

A bus driver who transported 35 student leaders to the prom Saturday in Sacramento found a bottle containing alcohol on the bus, prompting the school's administration to exclude each of the students from the prom.

Months of planning and raising funds for the perfect prom were cast aside for 35 students who comprise the junior class' leadership at when someone allegedly left a bottle of vitamin water containing alcohol on the bus that took them to their junior prom. 

The students -- some who had participated Thursday in an warning them of about the dangers of drinking and driving -- chartered the bus to drive them safely from their Dixon homes to Elks Tower in Downtown Sacramento.

Donning their beautiful dresses and sharp-looking tuxedos the teenagers were looking forward to dancing the night away, taking photographs and making memories that would last them a lifetime.

Instead, the teenagers were left with bitterness about the way that the school's administration handled the situation after the bus driver who drove them to the prom found a bottle containing alcohol on the bus.

Breathalyze Us, Principal Barsotti

At the heart of backlash against the school’s administration lies a contract that each of the students and their parents signed to be able to attend the prom. 

The contract states: "Students suspected of being under the influence will be subject to evaluation by DHS Administration and/or local law enforcement, including a breathalyzer exam. The students who are under the influence will have their parents contacted for pick-up."

Several of the students interviewed for this story said that the school violated the contact by not providing any of the students a Breathalyzer test and failing to contact their parents.

"He never Breathalyzed any of us," said DHS junior Bridget Roberts, 16. "Nobody’s parents were contacted unless their kids contacted them personally. We stood outside of the dance on the street for four hours, not supervised."

Roberts said the bus driver left the prom once the alcohol was found on the bus, as stipulated in the bus company’s contract, leaving the kids without a way to get back home.

Meanwhile, the 35 students were made to stand outside the doors of the very prom that they had put together. They made phone calls, sent text messages and attempted to clear their names by arguing for a law enforcement presence to respond to the scene and Breathalyze the students as stipulated in the contract.

However, Roberts said that the administration refused to call in local law enforcement and lacked a Breathalyzer of its own to test the students.

"I got a ride home with one of my friend’s mom because they were at the Dwelley house, a couple of parents," Roberts said. "We all went back to Maddy’s. It was handled poorly."

Many of the student leaders share Roberts' sentiments.

"I'm on the leadership crew that planned this prom ... we have been planning this since freshmen year," said Junior Class Vice President Yasmin Quintana said. "I have been the one behind the scenes the entire time. I put my whole heart into the prom. It was just really frustrating for me because I don’t drink. I asked Mr. Barsotti more than three times that he Breathalyze me and he would not Breathalyze me."

Quintana said that students were pleading with Barsotti to have him call someone from the local police department or perhaps the California Highway Patrol, but Barsotti refused she said. 

"I demanded him to Breathalyze me," Quintana said. "I think it was handled very wrong. I think that what should have been done is if you were drinking, you were out. I did not spend all this money to spend it sitting outside. They broke the contract, not us." 

"They said they were looking for honesty," Junior Class President Cassandra Owens said. "In that case they weren’t being honest. When they said there was going to be a Breathalyzer there. First of all the attitude toward it. They all acted like we are dumb. They did not treat us with respect. They just automatically assumed it was certain people. It was all so complicated. If they just had a Breathalyzer there, that could have been 100 times better."

Quintana, Owens and Roberts said they didn't see anyone on the bus drinking alcohol, and said that someone perhaps left the bottle from a previous trip. They said that if some of the students were drinking, they should have not been allowed to go inside.

They said that a few of the kids on the bus told Barsotti and his staff that they were the ones who were drinking, however, the principal did not budge in his decision to keep all of the students outside of the prom. In addition, the students say that an ambulance was called in to treat another student who drank alcohol, but that was not on the bus chartered by the student leaders.

They said that the students who arrived with girl whom was treated by the ambulance were not asked to leave the prom.

"What was done was not right," Quintana said. "Keeping a few kids out that’s one thing, but keeping all 35 of us out is not right."

Quintana said that many of Principal Barsotti's decisions at Dixon High School have been unpopular among the students, but she is among the students who attempt to support the principal wholeheartedly. However, she said this particular incident has changed things.

"We all thought that he was going to meet us in the middle to come up with a compromise to make everybody happy but he didn’t," Quintana said. "I have never been so disappointed. I am ASB Vice President. That is a huge role around the school. I'm really known in the office. Whenever anything like this happens I always take the school’s side. I always do whatever I can to back up the school. But this one just threw me over the edge. I have never been embarrassed to attend Dixon High School."

Parents Scramble to Pick Up Students

Marcia Owens was at her Dixon home Saturday night when she received the call from her daughter, Cassandra. 

Her daughter, who is the Junior Class President, told her that she would not be allowed into the prom because a bottle of alcohol was found on the bus she was riding in.

Owens made the trip to Downtown Sacramento to pick up her daughter and ask some questions about what happened.

"The situation allegedly occurred on the bus, there were no witnesses to anything," Owens said.

Owens mentioned the Breathalyzer clause in the prom contract and that the administration is obligated to contact parents but said, "I can tell you that none of that happened." 

"Barsotti interviewed them, he left the kids out there with no remedy to the issue, he broke his own dance contract," Owens said. “I was so sickened by everything that transpired that night, nothing made sense."

Among the students who were not allowed to enter the junior prom was John Dolan, son of Interim Superintendent and former DHS Principal Brian Dolan.

"I don't think I have enough information from the administration right now to be able to make any kind of judgment on it, much of the information is coming from the students," Dolan said Sunday night in a telephone interview. "My own son was on that bus. I drove over to Sacramento to pick up my kid. We didn't even know how many kids brought the alcohol."

Dolan said that he does not believe his son violated the contract that prevents students from drinking alcohol at the prom.

When asked if it was fair for his son to be excluded from the prom, Dolan said: "The last thing that we want to do is deprive kids of what they look forward to. Until I talk to the administration ... as a parent I don’t know if it's right or wrong to keep my son out. I know that once that alcohol shows up it’s a different situation. I know that there are a lot of people upset. It was a frustrating and disappointing night for us too, as a family."

Dolan said there are many elements to this incident and he asks for parents and the students to have patience while he attempts to sort out what happened and why the decision was made.

"I don’t know that any of the kids or the parents have all the information that they need to make a judgment," he said. "If it was a total kid mess-up or a total admin mess-up. I know that they have more work to do tomorrow. I am sure that parents will want to talk to the administration. Let the information develop and give each other the chance to say their piece and get sorted through this carefully."

"They can’t fix this," Owens said. "You can’t fix something that is destroyed. They are going to have to take it upon themselves, a prom for those kids who chose to do the right thing."

The 35 Moblizes

Today on the campus of Dixon High School the 35 students and others who support them are planning to wear their prom attire to school and maybe even dance in protest of the decision.

Students will also be speaking to the school board at the next school board meeting, slated for May 3. Many of them have taken to social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to vent about the decision and to organize.

Dixon Patch will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Editor's note: Calls to Principal Barsotti were not returned as of this posting. We will update the story as soon as we can.

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ylqpr May 01, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Sorry, I'm confused. DHS Student - Are you a student or are you a parent? Because here you claim to be a student and above you're a parent. I'm just trying to collect facts here and get to the bottom of this. Can you clarify, please?
ylqpr May 01, 2012 at 06:20 AM
When I arrived I asked if any of the 35 were not from DHS, more so because I wanted to know if they had also signed a "contract" and aware of the rules set forth by the contract. There were three of the 35 that were not from DHS. Two boys from a different city and one girl from MPHS. All three of them asked to be breathalyzed. Again, had they been drinking I don't think they would have asked for a test. In any case, the very rumor mill you speak of is exactly what you're doing here. We know assumptions don't get us far and pointing a finger at one young lady without any evidence and only based on “rumor” is not helping any situation.
Andreia Melton May 01, 2012 at 07:08 AM
I graduated class of 08' and in my four years or going to DHS we went through three different principles. My first two years I was fortunate enough to have a principal that despite it being my first year attending a school in Dixon, he cared enough to know me by my name. Mr. Dolan at every single rally would make it a point to say his phrase "have a safe and sober night" after my first two years with him as my principal we got another one and another. Mr. Barsotti had tried to change the rules, the dances, and even the school colors. Forget all the BS I say Dolan for principal!!!!!
Scott Smith May 01, 2012 at 07:15 AM
The principal should have met with the 35 this morning and the entire group discuss the mistakes that were made, who ever apologize for the mistakes, put guidelines together to try to prevent it from happening again and start mending the disconnect between the students, parents & administration. I believe if this happened most of the coverage today would not have happened.
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 07:40 AM
Too chicken to post your name: Here's the deal--if what we've read is to believed, the limo driver said the empty water bottle smelled like alcohol. Do we really punish people because a limo driver thinks he smells alcohol? These kids are judged guilty with no evidence whatsoever? Seriously? By the way, I'd really appreciate it if someone would post the name of the limo company. Time for a boycott.
ylqpr May 01, 2012 at 07:44 AM
If we're going to call out codes and go on saying that there was actually a "minors in possession" lets clean a few things up. None of the kids were actually found with anything on them. The driver didn’t see them drink from the bottle, didn’t find it on them, didn’t find it in their bags, etc. Rather, the driver assumed that because it was found in his limo as he dropped them off that it belonged to them. So, there was no actual evidence to warrant an MIP. All students on the bus said they did not bring the bottle on-board and wanted to prove so by demanding a breathalyzer from law enforcement or an administrator when they were accused of drinking on the bus. Since we don’t know all facts just yet, there is a possibility that the bus driver missed the bottle when he checked the bus before they got on. And if API and the administration was serious about an MIP, then the first thing they should have done was call the student’s parents and law enforcement to hold this so called minor possessing alcohol responsible for his/her actions. Myself and other adults were present as this night unfolded. Young teens do at times make poor choices, but that does not excuse the irresponsibility on the administration’s part. Everyone is so busy assuming and pointing fingers at who could have done wrong that no one is standing up for the students who did things right.
ylqpr May 01, 2012 at 08:00 AM
Also, if you have not done so take a look at the pictures above. One picture in particular is evidence of these students trying to do the right thing by having a supervised "sober party." It's a text message with times, dates and names. No rumor or assumptions there.
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 08:23 AM
@ylqpr - Here's where I beat up on Carlos a little. I've read that "a bottle of booze" and "a bottle containing alcohol" were found on the bus. I've also read that an empty vitamin water bottle was found on the bus and the driver claimed it "smelled like" alcohol. Which is it? If the latter, the smell could have been hand sanitizer or cheap cologne. My kid wasn't at the prom, but if he'd been left, unsupervised, to wander that part of Sacramento for 4 hours, you can bet I'd have been mentioned in the news. As a side note, when did we start spending thousands of dollars for a junior prom? Not to belittle what happened, but what's wrong with decorating the gym? Yes, my senior prom was at a nicer venue, but the junior prom was at the gym. Even the senior prom was different. I can honestly say that nobody rented a limo and none of us would have attended had the tickets been priced as high as they currently are. I'm sorry, I know high school is important, but if your junior or senior prom is/was the fanciest party you attend in your life, something's wrong.
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 08:25 AM
@Aaron: "I am Spartacus!"
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 08:32 AM
@Sugah Momma - you realize you just demonized any and all female MPHS students who missed school today? Teenage rumors are inherently questionable. Just because a teen to whom you are related passed a tidbit along doesn't make it true. Hopefully no female students at MPHS get beaten up due to your irresponsible post. Should such an unfortunate event occur, I can only hope that you can be traced through your internet address and held responsible. (And no, my daughters have already graduated, so it wasn't one of them.)
WD May 01, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I've never seen so much negativity and turmoil as I have seen in the last year with DHS,all starting with the football coaching issue going against what the vast majority of the residence of Dixon want. Then the change of school colors, and the removal of zero period, the supporting of our school athletic director, the lack of support for the kids and FFA who are involved in the showing of their animals during the Mayfair week, now this....Now its painfully obvious why Winters HS and Fairfield HS canned this guy.
Carlos Villatoro May 01, 2012 at 02:58 PM
@Ian than you for the comment. The thing about this situation is that the administration is not releasing any details about this incident, at least, not until they have had a chance to meet amongst each other about the next step. The information that I received, came from the students who were on the bus. Many of them, I get the sense didn't see the bottle directly. They have said that it was a vitamin water bottle that was suspected of having alcohol in it. At this time, it's not clear if the water bottle was filled to the brim with alcohol, was filled halfway with alcohol, a quarter of the way (you see where I'm going with this), or was empty and simply smelled of alcohol. We will know more of these details, hopefully, on Wednesday when the school's administration holds a special meeting with everyone at the DHS Theater.
just saying May 01, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Sad to hear all i keep thinking is my child would of called me from cell phone right away and i would of drove there and my child would of got in period where were all the parents we know that almost every kid has a cell phone why wouldn't they called parent right away
just saying May 01, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Hey was just thinking how do they know it was alcohol not just a really old vitamin water what was found did they drink some sounds like quilty until proven innocent not innocent until proven guilty hum again though where were parents and why wouldn't they drove down there bet i would of
Eva C May 01, 2012 at 04:02 PM
When I was in HS, not in Dixon, I do not remember having any problems with any of our administration. I'm so thankful for this. I don't have children in school, but all this negativity I am hearing and reading makes me think twice about Dixon school. Guess I'll really have to do my research on where to send my kids.
Luella Guaydacan May 01, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I graduated from Dixon High in 1960. My three children graduated in 79', 83' and 86'. My granddaughter graduated in 09'. NEVER have I seen so much controversy at DHS as I have seen this year. So I ask myself what is the common denominator in all this controversy and I come up with the principal, Mr. Barsotti. I knew on the first day of school this year by the way he handled the Senior situation that he was not going to be a good fit for Dixon. It seemed to me that he came here with the idea that he was going to straighten out our school, when in fact, it didn't need straightening out. These students are not hoodlums from the Ghetto, they are good kids from good families. They are our future leaders and they were treated unfairly by the school administration. The solution to all of this is simple. Barsotti needs to go and if it is true that Mr. Crumpacker talked about his penis in front of students, he needs to go also. I have 3 more grandchildren coming up through the system and if one of them are ever left on the streets of Sacramento, may God have mercy on the person responsible.
M.Owens May 01, 2012 at 08:50 PM
well my daughter was "working" the Prom, yes that is correct, the administration had her check in attendees even though they had no intention of letting her in, she called me as SOON as she could, and no she did not have her cell phone this time, she borrowed one. I think she and the rest felt that they would be allowed entry because she did NOT drink..... and did not witness anyone else drink.
Dixon Resident May 01, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I so wish I could "Like" almost all of the above comments.
Sharie Sprague May 01, 2012 at 09:42 PM
It would be nice to who the limo company/driver was so they could be boycotted in the future.
Carrie Carpenter May 01, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The teacher not only talked about the size of his penis, he told female students the way to loose love handles was by making love. He then went on to say something like you burn more caleries having sex than running. Most of the kids kno who it was he said it to. All they would have to do is ask the girls in he PE class. these girls are afraid he will try to hurt there grades or get them in trouble if they say anthing. One of the girls plays sports and everyone at DHS is in fear of retalation. after this weekend they would probly change their minds. I think they would have a hard time covering it up now. But who know his big dick comments were just a joke right? Mr. Beseanette is right. The board and the admenistration had done nothing but stick together and try to cover all this up. but then they want to make exemples out of leadership kids who are desparitely trying to have a sober prom. what is going on at DHS??????????????
ylqpr May 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
@Ian – Some news reports have said that what was found on the bus was a “bottle of booze” leading the public to believe it was a glass bottle of a particular brand of alcohol. In fact, it was not a bottle of booze but rather a plastic bottle of vitamin/vitawater. The limo bus driver picked it up when the kids were getting off the bus and said that what was left of it (approximately a few table spoons filling the rim of the bottle) smelled like alcohol. And regarding the comments about prom being such a big deal and the escalating price…these kids are good kids and I know my sister in particular has a very bright future ahead of her. She knows this is simply one of many fancy parties to come. With that said, she still should not have been denied access when she was stone cold sober, did not have any alcohol on her, volunteered herself many times to a breathalyzer test and had contributed countless hours to planning of her prom as student VP.
ylqpr May 01, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Eva, it's clear you have not been informed of what happened on Saturday night. You're right; kids should not have any alcohol on the bus. BUT at what point did anyone prove that this bottle of near empty vitamin water 1) actually contained alcohol and 2) belonged to one or some of the students on the bus? They were checked before they got on by parents and the students checked each other (because believe it or not they are a great group of kids). They all claimed it did not belong to them and volunteered themselves to a breathalyzer to prove they were not been drinking on the bus. It is possible the bottle of vitamin water was left before. Especially since it was not found on a kid but on the floor as a student picked it up when they were exiting and willingly handed it to the driver to toss.
Marcos Torres May 01, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I don't think it's the high school. It's supposed to have better than national average education, and it did get a recognition award last year. It's the principal that just appeared that has somehow managed to piss off everyone and their mothers.
chris plowman May 02, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I am a recent J.V Football coach who was fired(excuse me,not re- hired)and a DHS Parent of two. It is in my opinion that our firing(excuse me ,not re-hiring) parallels around the same reason as the events of this weekend. Power. Who has the power? On the field our team was unstoppable. We practiced harder than any team. Confidence produced Wins. Wins brought more confidence. We held the power. When approached about scores being lopsided we stuck to our guns. We weren't about to tell first year players NOT to do their very best. They did and scored at will and often. Mediocre football in Dixon was coming to an end .No more being just average.Way too much talent here for that. We had nothing but championships in mind. But again, we had power....How else would they get it back other than fire us (excuse me, not re-hire) Same deal with the prom. Flexing muscles and letting student leaders know who the real leaders are. No doubt most ,if not all all them kids are innocent. This was their prom for god sakes. They can never have it back,ever.Shame on you. Quit ruining these kids lives and quit robbing this town of what is best. Absolute power corrupts and power corrupts absolutely! Coach
Miranda May 02, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Sugar momma- how dare you point fingers at an innocent girl. I was next to "her" on the bus all the way to the prom location. Never once did "she" have a bottle of vitamin water on her or any other bottle for that matter. Just because "she's" from prairie does not mean "she" brought it. And I know for a FACT "she" didn't bring it. And to sit there and say "she didn't go to school Monday because she feared getting her butt kicked" now that's BS! That girl has been through so much and fears no one. "She" can and will fight "her" own battles and defend "herself" so I would quit pointing fingers and quit contributing to spreading rumors that aren't true.
Jenn May 02, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Actually, if you were unaware that a crime was committed, you lack the mens rea to be responsible for the crime. In the case of the unsuspecting getaway driver, if the were clueless as to what their passenger had just done, there would be no criminal liability.
Jenn May 02, 2012 at 05:55 PM
DHS and DUSD have a habit of punishing all for the actions of 1. It is unfortunate, and it doesn't teach kids the lesson the school/district thinks it is teaching. When I was at DHS they had a breathalyzer at our prom, and they threatened to test all of us. It broke part way through the night, and there were still girls puking into potted plants. It was a joke then, and it was an empty threat at this prom. It appears to me that the principal didn't expect to actually have to follow through on his contract/threat, so he wasn't prepared. My son is still young, but it is my experience at DHS 15+ years ago, my sisters' experiences less than 10 years ago, and these types of incidents that are leading me to consider our Sacramento private school options. The idea that it would ever be appropriate to strand 35 kids in down town Sacramento - at night - with no supervision simply based on the word of a limo driver (where's the bottle now?) is shocking to me. If this is the kind of leadership DHS employs, there is no way I want my kid there.
Ian Arnold May 03, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Here's a simple question: Did any of the kids exhibit any signs of alcohol consumption? If no, there was no probable cause; if yes, those kids should have been tested and, had they been drinking, their parents should have been called.
falcon May 03, 2012 at 04:52 AM
The limo company should have called the parents or police according to their contract. If alcohol is found on their limo bus they have an obligation to inform the minors parents and make certain those children were not left. It seems that there should be some culpability on API Limo
ylqpr May 03, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@Ian - No, the kids did not show any signs of being under the influence. He was going based on what the driver said. At no point did the driver say he witnessed any of the 35 drinking from this bottle either. Just that it was on the bus and smelled like alcohol. @Falcon -You're right. The limo company should have acted differently if this was really alcohol. Instead, the company drove away leaving the kids and picked up a different party leaving the 35 without transportation home. Funny that the company was paid and tipped in advance and per their contract was supposed to stay there all night.

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