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Principal Barsotti Declines Comment in Wake of Junior Prom Night Fiasco

Students protest, Barsotti declines comment on Promgate citing a pending investigation that may result in disciplinary action.

The fallout of a decision to prevent 35 student leaders from entering the prom that they planned for Dixon High's Junior class is resonating at the school as the students -- dubbed The 35 -- and their supporters are protesting the decision by wearing their prom attire to school today.

Meanwhile, Principal John Barsotti declined to comment about the incident, noting that an investigation underway into allegations that students brought a mineral/vitamin water bottle containing alcohol onto the bus that they rode to the prom in.

"We are in the middle of an investigation, continuing investigation, from an event on Saturday night during the Dixon High School prom and since we are in the middle of an investigation that may lead to disciplinary action I can't get into the specifics of the event or events while the investigation is still going," Barsotti said.

Students say that they were not drinking alcohol on the bus, and that the school violated a prom contract that stipulated that any student suspected of being under the influence of alcohol woud receive a Breathalyzer exam and have their parents notified.

Here is what some of the students said this morning on the campus of Dixon High School.

Pepe Semeraro: "We rented a party bus to go to the prom Saturday night.  As we were walking off Correy Sorenson found a knock-off vitamin water bottle on the bus so he took it , and as he was walking off the bus driver took it of him sniffed it and said 'This is alcohol.' As that was happening Mr. Barsotti was walking by and then he told us to go sit in a corner and he told us to wait there until someone said who's it was and we obviously didn't know who's it was.  No one saw it at all the whole time on the bus as far as I know."

Katie Smith: "They had us outside of my prom for four hours, we where not really supervised a couple of us walked to the Capitol and back, they didn't really watch us very well.  They didn't listen to us so..."

Katie Jacobs: "and I had to stay outside for four hours as well, and I was unsupervised I walked around the whole all the streets and stuff"

Pepe Semeraro: "They didn't even call for rides or anything"

Katie Jacobs: "They are going to call your parents if you need a ride, and they didn't call our parents."

Pepe Semeraro: "Our bus driver just left and Barsotti left us outside I missed my junior prom." 

Katie Jacobs: "And I paid over $600 dollars for my dress the tickets and everything to go to my prom that I didn't get to go to"  

Cassandra Owens, Class president and AC president elect: "Last Saturday night we missed out on our prom because of a unknown person bringing an found empty bottle of alcohol, I even put on the prom all of my junior class leaders program where on the bus.  We were all kept outside, people even walked to the capitol and back we had enough time to do that unsupervised. and we where denied bathroom privileges until hours into it, they had to escort us into the bathroom and back down one person even snuck into the prom, because they had to go to the bathroom, for like 10 minutes or so, they dances to two songs came right back. It's hard this meant so much to so many people so many sides of it."

We will continue to follow this developing story as we get further information

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Nathanial Orra April 30, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Unless additional information becomes available it sounds like Barsotti should be repremanded and/or fired for needless psycho behavior involving his heavy handed Gestapo-like disciplinary techniques. He's getting really good at screwing up students lives every spring. He should apply for work at Solano Prison checking vehicles at the gate.
Unhappy Dixonite April 30, 2012 at 09:33 PM
When I was a student of DHS they had a simple solution.... the breathalyzer. Now its so far past that theyll never even know who did it or who had the bottle. Way to go DHS staff! DHS should be forced to provide a paid prom for those that were denied.
Randy Davis May 01, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Where's Barsotti's logic? Punish on Saturday and investigate on Monday?
Dixon Resident May 01, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Perhaps Mr. Barsotti should send a newsletter to parents because I don't understand his logic with regard to this matter nor the dance regulations (two feet on the ground at all times, really?) nor the period issue. He seems like a control freak.
dhs student May 01, 2012 at 01:26 AM
what about the drunk students that did get into the dance that ended up puking in the bathroom?? Did anything happen to them??????????
Dixon Resident May 01, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Solution! Get rid of Mr. Barsotti!!
Choy May 01, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Yes they got sick
Tiffany Anne May 01, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Barsotti should jut get friend we don't need someone messing up lives of high schoolers and future High schoolers in Dixon I have to deal with him next year he messed up prom, the colors, the senior trip, the periods what's next?? Do we have to stay after school for 4 hours?? Barsotti should b fired and never be a principle again!!!!!!
Anonymous May 01, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Comparing Barsotti to the Gestapo. Really? That's not okay.
Dane Besneatte May 01, 2012 at 07:29 AM
What will it take to rid the High School of the punitive, irresponsible and unfit person occupying the principals office? Shame on Barsotti for oh so many faux paux's and the School Board for allowing this individual to continue to abuse students, families and others by heavy handed tactics, useless edicts and absurd decisions which have over the past few years deprived 100's of students and families life long lost opportunitites and experiences. 'Hello, School Board, are you listening?'
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 07:35 AM
I'm calling foul on the cheap shot at the board. This happened this weekend. As you well know, the Board can't discuss this issue until they've publicly noticed a meeting. I had a lot of issues with the last Board, but the majority of the current Board has worked hard to fix the Cross/Ernst/Halberg problem. As far as Barsotti's actions "over the past few years," he's been here less than a year. As I said, cheap shot.
Dane Besneatte May 01, 2012 at 07:56 AM
You are correct, I meant to write 'months' which makes it even more problematic. So far the School Board has not taken any action to reign in Mr. Barsotti but has confirmed other bad decisions of his so they are not off the hook. If action had been taken at the time of other errors in judgment maybe this would not have happened. I guess we will see if my comments are all wet and objectionable (a cheap shot, as you say) or prophetic. I don't suppose there is any urgency on the Board to take action, after all, the damage is already done.
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 08:46 AM
Dane, I'm (usually) on your side. Of the current board, Dr. Okhremtchouk, Joe DiPaola and Gil Garcia want to do to the right thing. Guy Garcia has some potential. As a City Councilmember, you well know the restrictions of the Brown Act. I myself, as a Library Commissioner, am pissed off beyond belief that the Brown Act often prevents me from publicly (or event privately) saying what needs to be said. I've been dismayed at the way the School Board has been attacked by some, and I've heretofore been somewhat supportive of Principal Barsotti. That's changed. As I said in another post, had my kid been one of those left unsupervised in that part of Sacramento for 4 hours late in the evening, I would most certainly have made the news. Dane, you and I both know that 1,000 citizens can come to a city council meeting and complain about an employee and there's little you can publicly say about it. It sucks, but it's the current state of the law. Were I God-emperor of the world, I'd dump Barsotti, reimburse all the kids for their out-of-pocket expenses, and rain down a plague of gremlins on the limo company. Unfortunately, neither you, I, Irina, Joe or Gil has that power. Ultimately it's up to the superintendent to make a decision and the Board to review the superintendent's decision. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Brian Dolan is, if nothing else, a paragon of virtue and he may give Barsotti a pass just because one of the involved kids was his son.
Ian Arnold May 01, 2012 at 08:49 AM
I'm mortified! Gil Pinon. That's what happens when I go back and edit.
Carlos Villatoro May 01, 2012 at 03:12 PM
happens to the best of us Ian = )
Dane Besneatte May 01, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Ian, you are correct again. There are rules that regulate what any public official can say and do but if the board or at least the chairperson would come out and say, for instance, this will be reviewed and we will take this up in compliance with the requirements of the law for notice and an opportunity to be heard. That may be wishful thinking but it also could calm a lot of tensions and recriminations. For me, the problerm is this isn't the first 'major' event where decisions have been made that have caused students and families to miss out on significant milestones. Now it is up to the schol board. We should give them the time necessary to deal with this properly and then let's see what is done. They deserve that.
Luella Guaydacan May 01, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Dane, if something terrible had happened to one of the students left on the streets of Sacramento for hours, who would be liable? I would say since it was a school function, the school would be liable. Barsotti not only handled the situation horribly, but put the school district in jeopardy of lawsuits. Am I wrong?
Ron Walker May 01, 2012 at 06:52 PM
What is going on at our school? First we have a teacher talking to students about the size of his genetals and now a leader acting with an iron fist without following his own rules? The School Board should act as soon as they have the info they need. Clean out the bad apples and protect our kids!
Carrie Carpenter May 01, 2012 at 08:48 PM
The teacher not only talked about the size of his penis, he told female students the way to lose love handles was by making love. He then went on to say something like you burn more caleries having sex than running a mile. Most of the students know 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??????????????
Carolene Dolan May 02, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Ian - You imply that my husband, Brian Dolan, will handle this matter differently because our son is involved. I find that extremely offensive and insulting, and it warrants an anpology to our entire family. My husband is a man of great integrity and honesty and he loves ALL the students of Dixon. He always has their best interest at heart.
karen moraes May 02, 2012 at 05:31 AM
he has no logic; he wants to come into our town and change everything and rule with an iron fist. Now he wants to say he feels terrible?? REALLY? Who's Prom was it anyways? Thats why you have a breathalyzer in PLACE: if not then do an on site"Evaluation" as the contract states!! Where did this guy come from? Does not CARE about our kids or community! PERIOD!!!
Dane Besneatte May 02, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Luella, I could not say positively the school would be liable but there is about a 99% chance of that. The errors and lack of judgment by school officials is only outweighed by their callous indifference to the pleas of the students and the conditions in which the students were put. Liability is almost a given under these conditions and the conduct would be, and is, indefensible. There may be liability for expenses and loses just for what has happened. Everyone should be very grateful this did not end up even worse, no thanks to school officials.
brook stiler May 02, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Mrs Dolan, I beg to differ on your husband's "integrity." If he wasn't such a vindictive person, I'd offer you proof, but I don't trust the local politics. They've already done much harm to me and my family.
Jeff May 03, 2012 at 12:10 AM
The administration can posture all they want. In the end they will do whatever they can to do to reduce what this costs them. They have had plenty of time to circle the wagons. So has the limo company. I sincerely hope these really great kids have some serious professional representation or they are going to get pushed aside in the rush toward political and financial expedience. I know some of these amazing kids and they deserve way better then they got and without representation they are going to come out on the short side of this. How many of you really expect the administration to do right by these kids? May suggest someone contact the Pacific Justice Institute to get someone to watch out for the kids rights.
Ian Arnold May 03, 2012 at 05:14 AM
@Carolene - I'm sorry if I offended you. I by no means intended to impugn Brian's integrity. In fact, I was attempting to point out that Brian's integrity could be detrimental in this case. The vast majority of parents, when placed in a position of power, would come down hard on anyone who mistreated their kids. My impression of Superintendent Dolan is that he might be more lenient simply because, as a parent, he's angry but as an administrator he wants to separate himself from that anger. Believe it or not, it was intended as a compliment. Were Brian not the superintendent, it would be easy. He could declare a conflict of interest and allow his boss to make the decision. Since he is the superintendent, he has to wrestle with his conscience and I can absolutely see he has a conscience. I may not have been the first to nominate Brian for the superintendent's job, but I was certainly at the forefront of that movement. Nothing I've seen causes me to believe I backed the wrong horse. Again, any offense I caused was entirely unintentional.
Ian Arnold May 03, 2012 at 05:49 AM
@Dane - I think the problem here was that events moved so quickly. I'm giving the Board President props for putting tonight's public meeting together on such short notice. While I was unable to attend, I'm following the live blog and I'm appalled at the principal's back pedalling. He should have come right out and apologized and admitted he made a mistake. Questions should have been answered with something along the lines of "I have no excuse," instead, I've seen what looks like Barsotti accusing some of the kids of lying while changing his story throughout the evening. The truly sad part is that the School Board has some momentous decisions to make, but the majority of the last few (and probably the next several) meetings will be dedicated to unnecessary drama from the High School. I know that at least 3 of the Board members want to do the right thing, but they're sometimes hamstrung by the rules. The Board can discipline the Superintendent, but not the District's other employees. That would be the easy way out and I don't believe the Board is looking for that. As far as me giving you a hard time the other night, I was in a crappy mood and didn't intend to pick a fight with you.
Ian Arnold May 03, 2012 at 06:17 AM
@ Carrie - Is this from November or is this another instance of Crumpacker saying things he shouldn't? Do you have a timeframe? Any way any of the kids would come forward?

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