KINGS PARK, N.Y. (CBS 2) — In Suffolk County, a high school student who confessed to an alcohol infraction said her school’s punishment goes way too far.
The teenager was banned from all extracurricular activities for the rest of the school year. She said that’s unfair treatment, and now she and her family are suing the school, reports CBS 2’s Chris Wragge.
Nina Ottaviano, 17, said being cut from all extracurricular activities for the rest of the year is an especially high price to pay for a top student who broke the rules only once.
“I was part of a bad situation, and now I’m the one that’s being victimized,” Ottaviano said.
Nina attends Kings Park High School on the North Shore, where she excels as a student and athlete.
She said that before a party in mid-September, she accepted a bottle of rum from one friend to give to another.
“I gave her alcohol, she put it in a hair spray bottle, [and] she was caught with it on school property,” Ottaviano said.
When confronted, Nina readily admitted her involvement. Her honesty didn’t help – she was suspended from all activities for the rest of the year, including the school newspaper, National Honor Society, Spanish club, and basketball and soccer.
“She was not able to participate in the fall soccer season, so the college scouts that came by couldn’t see her,” her father, John Ottaviano, said.
Her mother said she’s now being bullied.
“My heart hurts for her, I feel sick for her,” Margie Ottaviano said. “I worry about my kids going to school now.”
The school’s position is one of zero tolerance for alcohol. A district statement referred to its Web site, which says possession of alcohol can result in removal from all activities for the remainder of the school year.
The family’s attorney, though, said the school’s punishment is excessive, and is enforced very inconsistently.
“Primarily male students who have been caught drinking, and no such punishment has been rendered to them,” Ottaviano family attorney Jeffrey Brown said.
The Ottaviano family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school district.