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SD School Official Won’t Resign After Underage Party Bust

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(credit: Jupiter Images)

(credit: Jupiter Images)

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HARRISBURG, S.D. (AP) — The chairwoman of the Harrisburg school board says she will not step down after police busted a high-school graduation party at her home for underage drinking.

Michelle Schirado told KELO-TV on Monday that she has no intention of vacating her school board leadership position in the city of about 4,000 people southeast of Sioux Falls. Her comments came before a regularly scheduled board meeting in which she conducted business as usual and made no public comments about the weekend incident.

Schirado has not been charged in the party at her home in which authorities said 25 teenagers were cited for underage drinking. Schirado has said she did not know that the 17- and 18-year-olds who were celebrating high school graduation were consuming alcohol at the backyard bonfire. She also has said she does not condone underage drinking.

The school board did not take up the matter during its public session on Monday night. An unidentified “student issue” was listed as a topic during a closed executive session. School Superintendent Jim Holbeck also told the TV station that school officials are working with authorities to get details of the party.

Authorities are continuing to investigate, though Lincoln County State’s Attorney Thomas Wollman indicated a charge against Schirado was unlikely.

“If the evidence shows that she and her husband did not know these individuals were consuming alcohol, then I don’t believe that at that point in time we would be able to sustain any kind of charge,” he said.

The 18-year-olds cited at the party have a mandatory court appearance later this month, and the 17-year-olds will appear in juvenile court, according to the Argus Leader.

The newspaper reported that high school Principal Kevin Lein sent a message to parents Monday in which he said, “Parents, please communicate with your sons or daughters that the best way to put this behind you is to take responsibility for the mistake made and move on.”

All the students involved are seniors and have graduated, so there is little the school can do to penalize them, Lein said. However, any students still in track, golf or baseball could lose their right to compete.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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