SNELLVILLE - The Georgia Professional Standards Commission will launch an investigation into an after-prom party hosted in April by a Brookwood teacher.
Cheryl Benton, a broadcast journalism teacher, was reprimanded in July for failing to take adequate measures to prevent the consumption of alcohol by teenagers attending a party at her home.
In the letter of reprimand, Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks described her supervision as "superficial." Alcohol was reportedly available in water bottles and in a punch, and students were observed playing beer pong, drinking alcohol from paper cups and vomiting, the letter states.
"These circumstances do not represent the virtually undetectable behavior of students bent on deception which might excuse someone who vigilantly attempted to prevent underage drinking," Wilbanks wrote. "Rather, it appears that student supervision was so superficial as to be tantamount to tolerance rather than prohibition of underage drinking."
Benton, who did not challenge the reprimand, responded that she "regret(s) that the celebration transpired in the manner it did." Benton has said previously students were told alcohol would not be permitted at the party, and she and four other adults supervised the party.
"I want to assure you that I take my job as a professional educator very seriously," Benton wrote in response to the reprimand. "I do my best to abide by all local policies, state laws and ethical requirements. I am not tolerant of underage drinking and expect my son and his friends to abide by the all applicable policies and laws.
"My hope was to provide not only a safe venue but also enough supervision to inhibit poor choices on a night notorious for risky teenage behavior. ... My impression that morning was that it had been a successful party. I am dismayed and embarrassed that it appears that my supervision was unsatisfactory, and I know other adults present are equally upset."
The Commission received a complaint Aug. 7 from Gwinnett County Public Schools, which is required to report all ethics complaints to the state agency responsible for certifying teachers. The Commission decided this week to launch the investigation.
Investigations typically last two to three months, said Gary Walker, the PSC's deputy director. After a report is filed, the Commission will make a decision on whether sanctions should be taken against Benton's certification.