A popular Garfield High School choir teacher has been fired after she admitted to drinking alcohol during a March school trip to New Orleans. Seattle Public Schools broke the news about Carol Burton’s termination with a Friday night press release last week.
The superintendent found that numerous district policies, protocols and field trip guidelines were violated. Such violations included the consumption of alcohol by staff, allowing chaperones to consume alcohol, allowing boys and girls inside each other’s hotel rooms, ignoring curfew, and no random room checks conducted after curfew.
The firing comes after SPS hired a private investigator, a former U.S. Attorney, to look into claims that multiple school policies were violated during the trip.
The field trip has been marred in controversy since allegations emerged earlier this summer that one male student groped two female students in a hotel room. A chaperone was also alleged to have “engaged in inappropriate contact” with a student.
SPS declined to give media interviews about the firing which caused a backlash among some students and parents who say Burton was a scapegoat for SPS. Burton told KOMO, “I had 2½ alcoholic beverages on this trip and they are, without a doubt, the most expensive drinks I’ve ever had in my life.”
The New Orleans incident joins follows controversy over another Garfield school trip after the investigation of a sexual assault in 2012.
UPDATE: This article has been updated with a more clear description of the previous controversy related to a Garfield school trip. We have also removed reporting on schools-related budget issues from the post.