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Police investigate underage drinking at Catskill pep rally

CATSKILL -- Cover up or quick to act?  A viewer reached out to CBS6 with concerns about what may have happened at a high school rally in Catskill, suggesting kids were drinking alcohol and allowed to get away with it.

There is a police investigation underway as to what happened around the school's spirit day and if it included spirit of the liquid kind.

"We don't punish students because they're guilty of suspicion," said superintendent Dr. Kathleen Farrell.  "We punish students who commit offenses."

There is suspicion swirling from what happened on the Catskill campus two weeks ago.  The superintendent says about 20 high-school kids were planning a barbeque for a yearly kind-of pep rally. 

"On consideration, we decided that it was a relatively innocuous activity," Dr. Farrell said.  "We made sure the students knew we were aware of it.  We assigned additional staff to monitor it."

A teacher suspected the kids were drinking, and the school called police.

"There was a bottle of alcohol that was recovered at the scene and it's uncertain who brought that alcohol to the school," said Catskill Police Lt. Ronald Frascello.

A student or a group of them may face school action when the police investigation is complete. 

"Several students did submit to a PBT tester," Frascello said.  "It was determined that they showed zero percent of alcohol in their system."

Three other students were arrested after school across the street for smoking marijuana.  The superintendent will address any school penalties for them this week.  If any of those questioned for drinking are found to be responsible for having booze on school grounds, they will be reprimanded.

"We want confirmation and then we will take appropriate action," Farrell said.

The superintendent says there have actually been less problems with students and alcohol in the most recent years.  She could recall two incidents when alcohol has been found on campus outside of this one.

Police tell us they also go to the Catskill schools yearly to talk about the consequences of drinking and driving whether you're the one drinking, or with someone who is.
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