Troopers Investigate "Report of Harm" at Teen Party

Incident Spurs Community Conversation on Bullying, Alcohol Abuse
Hannah Heimbuch

     Alaska State Troopers are investigating events surrounding a large September house party, where numerous Homer High School students and other youth were in attendance. The fallout from the party has prompted a community meeting at the high school tonight. 

     While law enforcement officials will not confirm the nature of this incident, they report that they are following up on an Office of Children’s Services report of harm.

     Troopers responded to Homer High on Monday the 10th, said Principal Dr. Alan Gee, interviewing students in regard to what they called an incidence of severe misconduct that had taken place at the party.

     That day a number of students self-reported to Dr. Gee that they had violated the school’s alcohol proximity restriction for athletes at that party. 14 student athletes were dealt consequences for that separate violation.

     As of yet, no charges have been pressed regarding the severe misconduct, though troopers expect more developments will become public by next week. Last week about half of the student body was taken to see the documentary film "Bully," after which class discussions were held.

     Beyond discussion of social issues, the matter is in the authorities hands, said Gee. Troopers returned to Homer High on Tuesday to again question students and confiscated several cell phones. 

     "Hopefully, if there was some severe misconduct ... they address this and action is taken," said Gee.

     Gee said that he is not allowed to conduct an investigation about an event that occurred off-campus. He says he has addressed the issue with parents and students.

     "I'm angered," he said. "This could've been my children. I want something done."

     As alarm, rumor and questions arise in Homer’s youth and adult community, school leaders, parents and community organizations are pushed to address some of the more difficult issues of boundaries and behavior among young people.

     Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic’s Interim Director Catriona Lowe said these last weeks have brought up important topics, like consent, communication and risk taking, as Homer processes the realities of violence within the community.

     "There is a deep societal piece here," said Lowe. "We just need to start looking at a way to counteract some of the role models that are out there in the media."

     Anna Meredith, the Youth Program Coordinator for Clinic’s youth Rec Room, said this incident has brought up a lot of questions and concerns among the youth she interacts with. Members of her PHAT team – Promoting Health Among Teens – have been hard at work helping students process the disturbing incident, and figuring out how to better discuss their own boundaries when it comes to relationships, sex and social situations.

     There will be a parent meeting this Thursday in the Homer High School theater at 7 p.m. regarding this incident and the issues surrounding it. School administration, law enforcement and counselors will be present to discuss issues and respond to questions and concerns.

     If you would like more resources on how to discuss difficult topics with young people in your life, both Haven House (235-7712) and Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic (235-3436) have resources and counselors available.