Some Eden Prairie students have been suspended from sports and extracurricular activities after school officials saw Facebook photos of students who appeared to be partying, several students said.
Danny O'Leary, a senior lacrosse player, said Tuesday that his dean obtained four Facebook photos of O'Leary holding drinks and said he was in "a bit of trouble." One photo shows him holding a can of beer, another a shot of rum, and another showed him holding his friend's 40-ounce container of beer.
"I wasn't drinking that night," O'Leary said. "I was told each picture was equal to a two-game suspension."
The Associated Press left phone messages at the offices of the high school principal and the school district's communications staff early Wednesday. The officials were asked to contact the AP with comment once they arrive to their offices Wednesday morning.
Varsity boys hockey coach Lee Smith told the Star Tribune that no players on his team are involved.
O'Leary said he planned to meet with the director of student activities about the suspensions.
He said two of the photos depicting him were taken two years ago, before he joined the lacrosse team and signed a pledge not to drink.
"I'm personally pretty upset and wondering why someone would collect these photos and turn them in," O'Leary said. "A lot of kids' lives are going to be ruined as far as scholarships and sports are concerned."
O'Leary said the suspensions will likely curb underage drinking, but mostly, kids will just be smarter about not putting drinking photos online.
"It's dumb to have these pictures up on the Internet," he said, noting that he has since deleted his Facebook page.
Senior Natalie Friedman agreed that the school's actions won't change much. But, she said, she sees the school's perspective.
"They can't look at these pictures and not do anything about it," she said. "But it's not going to stop kids from drinking. We're just going to re-evaluate what we put out in public. We're going to be more cautious."
Friedman said she was scolded about Facebook photos of her behind a bar at a friend's house with drinks visible. She declined to say whether she was drinking, saying no one could prove the beverages contained alcohol.
"I didn't get into any trouble," she said. "But I'm only in intramural sports and some clubs." She said a friend who is captain of a girls' team was stripped of her leadership role because of the photos.
Eden Prairie senior Rachael Kalaidis, who hasn't been called to the dean's office but said she might because she is probably in some of her friends' photos, said several students have already been reprimanded.
However, she said, the administration has not made any public announcements about it or sent out any information.
"Everyone thinks it's pretty weird," she said. "I think it's a huge invasion of privacy."
The Minnesota State High School League requires student athletes to sign a pledge that they will not drink alcoholic beverages.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)