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Judge Rules Students Cited For Underage Drinking Should Be Allowed To Attend Prom, Graduation

BELLE VERNON (KDKA) -- A group of students in Westmoreland County who were caught drinking and were banned from prom and graduation will now be allowed to participate.

What started out on the campus of Charleroi Area High School ended in a Westmoreland County courtroom.

Several Belle Vernon Area School District students were cited for underage drinking at the Relay For Life event held on the Charleroi Area District campus on May 3.

Belle Vernon Area School District administrators ruled the students should face a 45-day suspension and could not participate in any district activities, including the prom and graduation ceremonies.

A lawyer for the students, however, filed a motion asking Common Please Judge Harry Smail to overturn the Belle Vernon Area School District's disciplinary measures. The lawyer argued because the incident didn't happen within the Belle Vernon School District, it was beyond the district's authority to punish the students.

A few residents in the area weighed in on the matter.

"I think they're gonna have a problem, they should have a problem with the underage drinking, but as far as being suspended from school, that's a different district than where it happened," resident Ron Necciaa siad

"I believe that they cannot enforce those rules as a school district," resident TJ Cornell said

This week, Smail ruled on behalf of the students, writing in his decision, "Barring the students from school will result in greater harm than allowing for their return pending resolution of this matter ... With the court finding the Relay of Life to be a community event and specifically not a school-sponsored event, the court finds very limited availability for school district action in this matter."

KDKA reached out to both the district and the attorney for the students, but have not yet heard back.

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