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Parents Launch Petition Against Camp Bernie Chaperones

Group seeks ban against fathers who allegedly drank, lit fires, left children unattended during five-hour party.

Verona parents who are angry about a group of fathers who supposedly got drunk at a school camping trip have taken their issue to the Internet.


After demanding that the Verona School Board take action, parents have launched an online petition trying to get the fathers banned from future school trips.

As of Monday, the petition had 20 signatures.

The fathers are accused of leaving their charges while they lit fires and drank alcohol in another cabin during a five-hour party.

The camping trip, at the YMCA Camp Bernie in Port Murray, was for Verona’s fifth graders from the H.B. Whitehorne Middle School.

At the June 19 school board meeting, parents demanded the board take action against the parents.

Schools Superintendent Steven Forte said the district would revamp the way it chooses chaperones in the future and may demand background checks for future trips.

Forte declined taking further action, noting he had discussed the matter with Verona Police Chief Douglas J. Huber, and no laws had been violated.

“Chaperoning is a privilege. If you abuse the privilege, you should not be invited back,” wrote Amy Ambrosio in the petition's comment section.

“These fathers should be banned from future class trips,” parent Palma Quagliata told Patch at the June 19 meeting. “A message needs to be sent.”

The petition reads:

 “We as parents expect our children be at school events and learn good and responsible behavior and to be in a safe a environment. What happened at Camp Bernie with individuals breaking rules...drinking alcoholic beverages, bringing food that may attract bears, starting fires in or near cabins and leaving children unattended with the fires burning, and leaving children without a means of emergency assistance if necessary is a major breakdown in responsible individual thinking and behavior.” 

“We can and do exercise our responsibility to ensure the safety of all our students,” Verona School Board President John Quattrocchi said Monday. “The administration is developing a set of procedure changes that may include, but are not limited to clearly documenting the expectations of parent chaperones, review of when parents may chaperone versus use of school employees, number of adult chaperones to ensure safety of all students and possibly having the Verona Police or Juvenile Officer attend the overnight trip in the future.”

“We have clear policies in place for both student and adult behavior that are consistent with case law and the rights and responsibilities of public school jurisdiction,” he said.

DARIA July 10, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I don't see how a general "background check" will tell us if a parent will exhibit less than stellar behavior. A background check (which is going to cost money! More inceases in the school budget are NOT what we need) may not uncover a social drinker with poor judgement. You know, these guys could be exhibit exemplary behavior at work, or in church or whatever & still be idiotic when around beer, fire & snackfoods. That might just open an costly can of worms for Verona property owners....
Valerie July 10, 2012 at 06:57 PM
The following is a response from Mr. Freund when I questioned who would be chaperoning the chaperons prior to the Camp Bernie trip: Sent: Wed, May 2, 2012 8:21 am Subject: RE: Camp Bernie Thanks for bringing this to my attention- parent chaperones need stay with their children in the cabins. I will make sure that everyone is aware of this before the trip. We will be sending home another letter and will also have a meeting for the chaperones (the meeting is scheduled for Thursday 5/31). I’m not sure of the situation that you mention, I do know that we had a few dads chaperone their daughters last year and because they were not placed in their daughter’s cabins, they had the option of sleeping in a random boy cabin or going home for the night, so they may have chosen their car instead. Regards- Howard Freund It's obvious the superintendent, the BOE, and the school officials will set in place their "new procedures" and they will be about as effective as the old ones. As you can read Mr. Freund assured me that at all the chaperons would be aware that they were "to stay with the children in the cabin". I've lost all confidence in Mr. Freunds ability to run this program and would suggest to Mr. Forte that he find someone else who can.
Forest Ave parent July 16, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Were talking accountability here………………. Why should the BOE punish the all future Verona parents for the actions of the 5th grade class Camp Bernie parents?? The Class of 2019 should be the only class monitored since their chaperones were the only ones showing poor judgment. Let the “Class of 2019” parents pay expense’s for “Police monitoring/escorts” on other activities for the “Class of 2019” only, from their own class account. I don’t agree that future graduating classes, future class functions or future Camp Bernie outings should suffer due to a few (70) bad Class of 2019 parents. I understand we all make mistakes, let’s illustrate this to our children by holding the responsible persons responsible and not punish everyone else.

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