New York Principal Holds Prom on School Night to Curb Underage Drinking

New York high school divided over principal's controversial prom decision.

April 15, 2010— -- Students at a New York high school celebrated their junior prom in the most typical of ways, buying dresses, posing for photos.

But instead of capping off prom with the ultimate party, they had to get home at a sensible hour. This year's Pearl River High School junior prom was Wednesday night. And students were expected in class this morning -- or else.

The controversial prom was Principal Bill Furdon's answer to last year's prom debauchery, where students pulled a drunken all-nighter and posted pictures on Facebook.

"We had one bus come back with a girl that was non-responsive," Furdon said of an event where 50 teens were cited for underage drinking. "Paramedics were called here to the school. And you go, 'Wait a minute."

Click here for tips on how to talk to your teenagers about prom and drinking.

Students who didn't show up at the Rockland County school today faced serious consequences. Seniors wouldn't be able to walk during graduation, and others could lose academic and after-school privileges.

Furdon has a similar plan for the senior prom in June. Prom will be on a Sunday night, with students expected in class Monday.

Megan McDonough, who was one of the students expected in class today, said students were more focused on the prom and less on getting to the best after-party.

Her brother was busted for underage drinking after last year's prom.

Their mother is the head of the school's PTA.

"As a parent, you don't realize what is going on because you're thinking, 'Oh, they're not going to do anything,'" Donna McDonough said, "and then it hits you in the face, and you're like, 'Oh, I guess this is what is really going on.'"

McDonough made her son pay his $300 fine from an after-prom incident out of his summer lifeguard earnings.

School Night Prom: 'Everyone Had a Good Time'

Megan made it to class and was met with a hot breakfast provided by the school.

"Everyone had a good time, nice and sober," she said via Skype. "I wouldn't mind if it was on a school night again."

But not all parents were thrilled with Furdon's response to an age-old problem. Some accused the school of interfering with their parenting decisions and depriving their children of a long-cherished high school tradition.

The PTA is standing behind its principal and some say the dissenting parents were in denial.

"Separating the two events, now you've put the ownership back on the parents, as in, OK, you're letting them come to the prom tonight but they have to show up at school tomorrow," Eileen Kelly said. "Oh, and now you're letting them go to the beach on Saturday, OK, but that's on your ownership."

Schools have long tried to curb drinking, from Breathalyzer tests to after-prom activities where no alcohol is allowed. At Pearl River High School, officials held a breakfast for the juniors today and planned activities for them.