Nearly 80 people gathered at Wednesday night for a meeting entitled “The party bus and other dilemmas” to address not only the popular vehicles students use to travel to school proms but other issues impacting local area teens.
from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Juvenile Intervention Unit, Sgt. Mark Katz of the narcotics team and family therapist discussed an array of concerns with parents, which included parental responsibilities, drug abuse and the dangers of party buses.
The overall concern among parents in the room was that rather than deterring drinking and partying, the party buses simply promote illicit activity by teens.
“My candid answer with regard to these party buses: 'Am I a fan? Not at all,'” Manwell said. “I have not heard of any real clean party buses.... Working this community as long as I have … I have been to birthday parties where the party favor was a pipe.”
He also said such parties were occasionally hosted by parents themselves.
“I wouldn’t want to be a parent that is attached to these party buses or these houses [where parties are held]," he said. As long as a parent’s name appears on the dotted line, whether on the party bus rental agreement or on the mortgage of a home where a party is held, they are responsible, he said.
Klein said the problem is not just parents but also older siblings who rent the buses using their own credit cards.
In response to a question from one of the parents about banning the formal dance altogether, Larry Misel, Agoura High principal, said that if the school district banned the dance, students would still use the party buses. Also, if the school banned party buses, teens would simply get dropped off a block away from the dance, he said.
Currently, Agoura High staff search all the party buses and students arriving at the dance and can give students breathalyzer tests upon arrival, Misel said.
“When they are under our control, they are relatively safe,” he said. “What we can’t control is what happens around all of that.”
Part of the original logic was that the party buses would deter teens' drinking, he said. However, the problem with teens partying goes beyond school boundaries.
Manwell said another problem is with marijuana. While the campus itself remains mostly free of drugs, teens can find "ingenious way" to stash their dope around Agoura High, he said.
For example, some teens have been known to stash their marijuana in Slurpee cups inside of planters in Chumash Park, he said.
“They get the drugs before school, they get the drugs after school,” Manwell said. “We hardly ever find drugs on campus.”
Proactive parents are the key to addressing these issues, Klein said.
“You can’t educate a kid enough on the things that will ruin their life down the road,” Manwell said. “If you need that extra support, I have four deputies that do nothing but try to help kids.”
Manwell welcomed parents to bring their children down to the station to talk to deputies and help them get a better understanding of the dangers of drugs and other issues, he said.
Katz, who works with , said parents need to learn to recognize and look for signs of drug abuse. If a parent suspects their child is , then more than likely they are, he said.
Parents, concerned neighbors and other local residents need to remember that they can always report suspicious activity anonymously, and if the information is good, “we take action,” he said.
To find out more about the Juvenile Intervention Team, contact them at 818-878-1808.
To view Agoura High's 2012 prom regulations and rules, see the attached PDF file.