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High school trip to Peru interrupted by terrorism threat

Parents criticize school district for lack of adult supervision in dangerous area

— As a group of 27 students and four chaperones from Cazenovia High School were six hours into their flight to Lima, Peru, on Feb. 13 for a winter recess trip, the school district received an email from the U.S. State Department that terrorist groups had threatened to kidnap Americans traveling in the exact locations the school group intended to visit.

The ultimately revised trip itinerary led to hours of free “down time” for the students that one parent claimed resulted in a severe lack of supervision to the point of possible negligence and child endangerment, considering the terror threats in the region that caused the schedule changes.

Additionally, this accused chaperone neglect is being blamed for a group of the traveling students getting caught with alcohol on the trip, resulting in their suspension from school for five days.

Parent Sarah Webster told the Cazenovia Board of Education at its Feb. 25 meeting that she believes there are “extenuating circumstances” as to why the alcohol incident happened — namely a lack of adult supervision — that is only one part of an overall negligence and liability issue facing the school district.

“There are serious issues here of negligence and endangerment, and everyone should be happy it was only alcohol,” Webster said at the meeting. “I’d like assurances something will be done.”

The school trip to Peru, which occurred from Feb. 13 to 20, was centered in the capital city of Lima with trips scheduled to some of the major tourist sites such as the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Cusco. While the group was en route to Peru, the district was notified by the state department late on the evening of Feb. 14 that the terrorist threats against American citizens was credible and district administrators immediately met to discuss the issue, said Superintendent Bob Dubik. He instructed the group to remain in Lima during Friday, Feb. 15, while administrators met with parents and decided what to do.

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