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School District Plans To Continue Fighting Parents' Complaint Over Underage Drinking Discipline

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Belle Vernon Area School District isn't giving up after a judge overruled their disciplinary action against students who were cited for underage drinking.

"It is important to fight this because of future discipline that is going to come down the road," said Belle Vernon Area School District Solicitor Victor Kustra.

Future discipline is the main concern for officials at Belle Vernon Area School District.

KDKA sat down with district solicitor Victor Kustra to discuss the court's ruling that halted the expulsions of eight students. The students were caught drinking underage at a Relay for Life event at Charleroi Area High School earlier this month.

The district's recommended 45-day expulsion policy would have prevented the students from attending prom and graduation. But now, they can go.

"The agreements didn't happen in this case because the parents didn't agree with the school district's recommended discipline, which was a 45-day expulsion, and we simply didn't have time to schedule the formal hearings because this court case occurred," Kustra said.

Tom Rodriguez couldn't talk on camera, but says his daughter was one of the eight students cited.

He said the parents of the students that got in trouble weren't challenging discipline; they were challenging the severity of it.

Rodriguez went on to say the 45-day expulsion is extremely inconsistent with what the district has done in the past. Kustra disagrees with that.

"We're confident that the ways that the policies and procedures being enforced is consistent with what the law requires," Kustra said.

He said to his knowledge, the recommendation is not inconsistent with past disciplinary practices, and went on to say no parent approached the district before filing a lawsuit. The students ended up serving a 10-day suspension.

The district's says it's not giving up.

"We are certainly going to continue to oppose the parents' complaint in this case," Kustra said.

Kustra said the district will have to respond to the complaint by the end of the month. He said a trial court hearing has to take place on that complaint. The district plans on meeting with commonwealth court next month.

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