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Delaware town issues senior week warning

RentalsDouglas F. Gansler

A Delaware beach resort town that was the scene last June of a teenage party visited by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler issued a statement Monday criticizing parents who rent homes there for "senior week" celebrations.

The statement issued by the South Bethany town government reminded property owners of the steps it has taken and plans to take to discourage parties such as the one Gansler dropped by. Underage participants said many at the party were drinking.

In a message to property owners, the town emphasized its identity as one of Delaware's "Quiet Resorts."

"Every year in June, however, our tranquillity can be disturbed by high school seniors, who are affectionately referred to as 'June Bugs,' " the statement said. "Parents of high school seniors rent homes in the beach areas to celebrate senior graduation."

The statement described a detailed process the town goes through each year to prevent rentals to "June bugs." But it said that while it has reduced the number of senior week problems, some parties still take place.

"Many of the incidents that occur are the result of poor or absent supervision by parents. Parents often rent the homes and then disappear from the scene, leaving teenagers to fend for themselves. Many parents allow underage drinking inside the homes, believing this is acceptable as long as the teenagers do not drive," the statement said.

Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor, was captured in photos and video at the party, where he said he stopped by to talk with his son, who had just graduated from Bethesda's Landon School. The Baltimore Sun reported last week that Gansler at first said he had no responsibility to see that other people's children were not drinking — a position he reversed at a news conference Thursday.

The town statement came as Police Chief Joe Deloach told The Sun that his department, after consulting with the Delaware attorney general's office, had decided not to open an investigation into the possibility that adults had illegally allowed underage drinking. He said such cases are difficult to prove after the fact.

Deloach said an investigation into property damage at the rental home that week remains open, though it is now inactive. Gansler has said any damage at the house occurred after the boys checked out.

Gansler joined with the parents of about a dozen boys to rent a sprawling, six-bedroom house in South Bethany. While Gansler's name was not on the lease, he said he paid a proportional share of the week's rent.

The Landon parents laid down a series of rules for their sons that prohibited them from driving, among other things. The rules forbade hard liquor but made no mention of beer and wine.

According to participants and parents, the parents did not leave their sons alone but appointed adult chaperons to stay each night. The owner of the property told The Sun that the he believed the June rental, which was handled by a property management firm, was to several families, not to a group of graduating high school seniors.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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