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Caddo Schools field trip under fire

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A field trip organized by Caddo Parish School's Homeless Division is coming under fire by one guardian. It was designed to reward students in the program who had good grades and behavior. The trip made stops in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But one guardian says their student got a lesson she wasn't expecting. The guardian calls it astounding saying the students were in an unsafe environment. The person, who did not want their identity revealed is the guardian of a homeless student. Early last June, that student and 23 other homeless students from Caddo Parish went on a 3 day field trip. The students were between the ages of 9 and 18. School board officials say it was designed to expose the students to historical and cultural sites. But the guardian was shocked after the student told them about some extra activities not included on the trip's itinerary. The guardian says, "they gave money to the chaperones to purchase alcohol. They drank daiquiris and they went into bars and danced, and they had a lot of fun. And they were told not to tell." The student, who also did not want to be identified, says on Wednesday, June 6th, the group picked up lunch at Krystal on Bourbon Street. The food was brought back to the bus where they ate it. But the student says later that night, around 11pm, six students and two male chaperones returned to Bourbon Street. The student says, "we walked there and we stayed there for a couple of hours, kind of hung out. Just walked around. We went into one club for a while and danced a little bit, and then we walked back to the hotel." The student says when they returned to the hotel, two female chaperones wanted to go to Bourbon Street, but didn't want to walk. So they piled into a Caddo School Board vehicle and drove to the French Quarter. They say because of the number of people, one student had to sit on another person's lap. The student says it was on that visit to Bourbon Street, that the 3 students pooled their money and one of the chaperones bought them a large daiquiri to share. Caddo School officials would not comment on camera, but answered our questions through email. Caddo School Superintendent Dr. Gerald Dawkins says ten of the chaperones that went on the trip were interviewed. He says all denied purchasing alcohol for students and there is no evidence that any students went to Bourbon Street. But KTBS 3 News has obtained a copy of a transaction the student made with a debit card at Krystal on Bourbon Street. It clearly shows the student made a purchase there just after 4 o'clock in the morning on the last day of the trip. The guardian wants to know where were the room parents. Were they not looking for their students. Was there no check to make sure all students were not in the room? In his response, Dr. Dawkins said a couple of chaperones did go to the French Quarter, alone after hours. He says they made sure other chaperones were monitoring their students. He says this matter is being handled by the personnel department. The superintendent says the trip, which cost just over $9,000 was paid for with federal Title One money and private donations. We're told some students have been questioned by school board investigators. They denied the allegations. The student we spoke to has yet to be contact by school board officials.

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