PROSPERITY (WLTX) - Eight students at Mid-Carolina Middle School have been suspended for the rest of the school year, after district officials say they had sex while on a school sponsored field trip.
District officials say it happened in April, when the students, all aged 13 to 14 years old, snuck out of their hotel rooms the last night of the annual eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. and into other students' rooms to have sex.
Officials say four boys and four girls were involved.
School personnel found out about the incident last week when another student at the school told their parents about what happened and that parent reported it to the district.
District officials say there was an adequate number of chaperones on the trip: 20 for 70 students. The group of chaperones was made up of teachers, parents, district employees, and community volunteers. The district is still collecting information from the chaperones on what happened to clarify if the adults were fulfilling their responsibilities at the time the incidents occured.
"We want to make sure that we give parents a good feeling that we're going to take care of their children," said Newberry School District Spokesperson Hugh Gray.
Gray says a problem presented during check-in at the hotel made it harder for chaperones to monitor what went on during the night. Not all the students had an adult in the room with them as planned. The rooms were not close together, either, but were spread throughout ten floors; what appears to be a mix-up with the reservations.
Gray says this is the only time in the history of the trip that they've found students having sex.
"In any situation, it would be easy to point finers and assign blame. I think the most important thing is that we look at the situation as it is and find out what we can do in the future to make sure it does not happen again," Gray said.
A parent of the school district who often chaperones her children's field trips says she was shocked when she heard what happened.
"In my position, I think the chaperones did the wrong thing, because they did not protect the students," she said.
The parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said she also holds the children accountable.
The school district is looking at chaperone requirements and responsibilities to see what changes may need to be made in the future. While chaperones are volunteers (often parents, community members and district employees), they are considered district personnel and are held to the same standard as any other staff member.
The eight students have not been expelled. Officials say they'll be allowed to advance to high school next fall, as long as they've already made the grade.