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Board members consider ending school-sanctioned trips

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- It's a story all parents will have an opinion on.

Should Hamilton County Schools do away with school-sanctioned trips?

The controversy started last spring, when more than a dozen Signal Mountain students were punished for drinking on a senior trip.

Now a few school board members want to do away with those trips all together.

"We have taken this trip on a regular basis," Principal Debbie Smith says. "We have not had any trouble."

CCA Principal Debbie Smith has already submitted the request for next year's senior class trip to Orlando.

The arts-focused school takes its seniors to Disney World every spring, to learn from alumni who have landed acting gigs.

"That's what we look at this trip as, an extended school day, an extension of our curriculum, and supporting our students as the work into the professional world."

But that trip could soon cease to exist.

"I would like to see them take trips inside Hamilton County," board member, Rhonda Thurman says. "One day trips, you go, you come back."

The school board is considering doing away with school-sponsored leisure trips and those that take students out of the country.

The discussion comes seven months after teachers and students were punished for drinking on a senior trip to the Bahamas.

Board members don't want the liability. Some say parents should take the lead on organizing senior trips. But others say school-sanctioned trips are a way to reward students.

"Having an opportunity to travel and see places is as much a part of their education as books," says Jeffrey Wilson.

"I will not support taking away any trips from anyone," George Ricks says. "If we're going to take from one, then we take from all."

One thing is clear: the system's policy on school-sanctioned trips is soon to change.

But board members will take time to talk to constituents and principals before a vote.

Debbie Smith is hoping this year's CCA senior class of 70 students won't be disappointed.

"They want to continue to have it, and I don't blame them," Smith says.

The board will vote on the issue at next month's meeting.

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