Wescolite (Dillon, Mont) 1949-2009, December 08, 2004, Image 5

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The Wescolite Student Newspaper State News Responsibility questioned in Ronan lawsuit December 8, 2004 By Ader Evans According to witnesses and the local police Justin Benoist and Frank Nicholai III from Ronan left school around 1:25pm on February 27, 2004 and never returned to finish their afternoon classes. Accord­ ing to other state news, the boys con­ sumed large amounts of alcohol and then died from a combination of exposure and alcohol poisoning . The parents of the boys, Norma Fox and Arlene S. Powell, are suing the school for $4 million for recovering damages for the pain and suf­ fering that accompanied their sons' last hours of life, medical expenses, burial expenses, loss of income, loss of earning capacity. These are the damages allowed by law. According to local authorities the children were never reported missing throughout the weekend. The parents apparently reported the boys missing to the tribal police and they recorded them as runaways. However, in the local pa­ per The Missoulian it is noted that a school authority saw the children leave school grounds, even though this circum­ stance was never reported to the children’s parents. I called Superintendent Andy Holmlund of the Pablo School District and he had no comment on the situation due to the fact that the district has not been served legal papers. UM-Westem is predominantly known as an educational school therefore a few questions have been raised dealing with the accusations that have been served to the Pablo school district. I have talked to several education majors here on cam­ pus and asked them questions about the accusations. Should the school be held accountable for the boys' deaths? What kind of prece­ dent will be set by this suit? Becki Byers said, “I feel the school should have notified the parents when they found out that the children were miss­ ing from school. However, the parents chose not to notify the police except the tribal police. The police didn’t do any­ thing to try to find them, so I feel that they are responsible for their deaths not the school. If the children left on their own free will the school can’t be held responsible.” Due to the excessive alcohol related incidents in the Ronan area, should there be any extra training for the staff and/or students in that community? Byers said, “Yes I think that it could only help the situation there.” Kline Vorhes, an education major, had a few words to say involving the first question, he said, “Obviously it was a tragic event and you wish that it wouldn’t happen but it does. I don’t think the school should be sued, nor should they be held accountable. Something obvi­ ously needs to be done, but from what I have heard and understood the boys didn’t have the alcohol at school. They brought it from home and that is a whole differ­ ent situation. When they left school and the parents weren't notified, obviously guidelines weren’t followed and rules were broken. Everyone involved here is a at fault. I think the school is being wrongly sued. It's just a sad story, hope­ fully the children will be remembered in the community.” Bev Evans, a music teacher at an elementary school in Seeley Lake, stated, “Teachers are not responsible for everything that happens to children; therefore, I do not feel the school is liable for the deaths of those children. However the school is liable for the children’s care from eight to three or the allotted time. When the children were found missing the school should have notified the parents immediately.” When asked if there should be any extra training due to the excessive alcohol related incidents she said, “There should be extra training for the teachers in Pablo School District since there have been so many alcohol related incidents there. Also, training not only for the teachers but also the children.” Overall most agreed that the school shouldn’t be held responsible for their deaths. However most also feel that the school does have a certain responsibil­ ity to notify the parents when the children went missing. TEXTBOOK BUYBACK Friday, December 17 Monday, December 20 Tuesday, December 21 8am - 4pm Annual Christmas Sale begins Monday, December 13, and continues through Friday, December 17. All imprinted sportswear and memorabilia 20% OFF Campus Bookstore Hours: M-F 8-4 406-683-7283 McDonald's of Dillon Fast & Friendly Service Free Ice Cream Cone with purchase of a Value Meal and a copy of this ad. Now hiring friendly people. We have very flexible scheduling and can work around your schedule! •Yv - «»4 4 ♦'♦V-, ».«.♦> * ♦«.* * v> ♦«* *»♦ ♦ * ».♦.«» «.*>:♦ »4M ♦-♦♦♦ « •Y*w*.*.« V * V ♦ * • <

Wescolite (Dillon, Mont), 08 Dec. 2004, located at <http://montananewspapers.org/lccn/Wescolite/2004-12-08/ed-1/seq-5/>, image provided by MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.