Buena Regional School District’s Board of Education said Tuesday it would try to find a compromise to a previous decision to downsize this year’s homecoming floats to golf cars because of liability concerns.
About 50 high school students attended Tuesday’s meeting, and six of them addressed the board, asking it not to do away with the floats.
Citing liability, time and costs, Buena Regional High School administrators told students last week that floats at the homecoming parade should be downsized.
The floats, which students say have been a homecoming tradition for more than 35 years, are 16-foot trailers decorated by students and towed by pick-up trucks. Students sit in the trailers, which are towed on public roads. Students begin preparing for the parade in the summer, finding local residents with trailers who are willing to drive the floats.
“It’s really important to us and everybody was really upset,” said senior Janay Smith, of Richland, one of the students who addressed the board.
Several of the students who spoke cited state and local laws, noting that golf carts are not allowed to be used on public roads. They provided information negating the administration’s assertion that float drivers are required to obtain commercial driver’s licenses.
Board member David Anderson commended the students for their eloquence and preparedness.
Anderson said the board would look into the insurance end of the issue. Anderson said the board will contact its insurance provider today
He gave no timeline for a decision.
“No one is questioning that this is a valued tradition around here,” he said. “We will have to make calls to insurance companies and see what we come up with.”
High school Vice Principal Danielle Sneathen spoke on behalf of the administration. She did acknowledge that the administration regrets not including students in the decision process, but she stood by the decision. She made several points, the crux of which was that she is concerned about safety and the school’s liability when students are attending school-related float decorating meetings off school property, and when they are towed by pick-up trucks on unclosed public roads.
“If anything happened, everybody would be getting sued,” she said. “The homeowner, the driver, the school district, the class, the adviser, you name it, they’re putting their name on the lawsuit.”
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