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Update: Middletown Students Protest Homecoming Grinding Policy

Some parents expressed frustration that students were released early from the dance, before parents were notified and without proper supervision or transportation

[editor's note: updated Oct. 15 at 12:00 p.m.]

Middletown High School's homecoming dance was cut short by the school's administration Saturday night after students protested the school's "no grinding" policy. Grinding, is a dance style that is typically considered sexually suggestive. It can involve one or multiple dance partners.  

The policy, according to the Middletown High School handbook states that "sexually explicit dancing will not be tolerated." 

According to a MHS Senior, Principal Gail Abromitis made an announcement at lunch that "grinding" would not be tolerated at the dance.  The student said she has attended many dances throughout her four years at the school and she was not aware of any issues in the past.

Abromitis told the students the motto was "face to face with a little space," according to the student. 

At the dance, the DJ told some students they were not allowed to make song requests and that he only played music they could not dance to, such as alternative music. 

She said students were not grinding, or even dancing.  Eventually the students sat on the floor in protest and began to chant expletives.

Some students said they didn't know how to dance to the music so started a "mosh pit," which a type of group dancing that is typical of hard rock concerts.    There were reports that some students pushed and shoved, which was potentially unsafe.

"It was just not fun. I find it completely unnecessary," said the senior.  Around 9:25 p.m., the students were told the dance was going to end early and the students left the building. The dance was scheduled to end at 11 p.m.

"The dance was shortened because of unsafe behavior by students who did not agree with the no-grinding rule as outlined in the Middletown High School handbook," wrote the school administration in a statement on Sunday.

The Middletown Police Department confirmed there were police detail present at the dance, but they were not involved in the decision to stop the dance early or release the students.  There were no arrests made. 

Many parents expressed frustration that the school released the students from the dance before parents were notified and did not provide transportation or supervision. 

Parents reported they received a recorded phone call at 9:32 p.m. that students had been released at 9:25 p.m. due to inappropriate grinding at the dance, and to expect them home shortly.  Parents said the school did not provide transportation for the students. 

Candice Moitoza Barry commented on the Middletown Patch Facebook page that she received a call from her children from the Newport Creamery. She said she had expected her children, who are freshmen at the school, to be at the dance until 11 p.m.

"My daughter is in her senior year and this is now her memory of her last homecoming dance. This is very sad," said MHS parent Shannon Dixon.

Deborah Ann Nagle disagreed the school should be blamed for the incident. 

"The principle can't see the future so it was unplanned. Stop blaming other[s] for unruly kids," she said on the Facebook comment stream. "

Nunes responded that even if the students were to blame, the school had a responsibility to ensure their saftey.

"I don't care who caused it, I don't want my 14 year old walking home at night on Valley Road," she said. 

We want to hear from you.   Should the school had cut the dance early due to suggestive dancing?  If so, was it OK to release the students an hour and a half early without ensuring transportation or supervision until parents were notified?

This is an ongoing story. Make sure you are signed up for the Middletown Patch newsletter to keep current on the latest developments.

Jon Sisson October 15, 2012 at 07:41 PM
The kids should have known better, as they were told of the consequences. However, the school should have turned the lights on, music off, and kept them there until the appropriate time. I understand that in the mix of frustration/chaos, things can get crazy, but they ensured safety for the dance time so they have to provide it whether the kids were dancing or not. End of story.
East side October 15, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Middletown is following in the footsteps of Portsmouth. Remember last year with the pre-planned dress code drama? Then teachers weighed in that they were not paid for such events, not respected, and basically didn't want to bother with after school actiivities. More validation that the best paid part time job in America is teaching.
Cynthia Leary-Johnson October 15, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Wow it sounds more like the 60's to me.
Rev. Shaw Moore October 15, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I have always said no good comes from dancing.
Rev. Shaw Moore October 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I suspect transfer student Ren McCormack was behind the whole thing.
nun October 16, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Makes you wonder why schools bother to organize such events anymore. The world is a sad place when our youth's biggest issue is their right to simulate sex on the dance floor. Fight the power kids! You gotta fight for your right to act out crude behavior on the dance floor. Can't wait for the ACLU to chime in on this.
Cape Crusader II October 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
I agree, Maybe next time the students will think twice about their actions.

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