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Dance a Wrong Step for Member of Drill Team : Education: Student misses competition to attend Irvine High homecoming affair.


IRVINE — When Irvine High School senior Jennifer Hampton arrived for drill team practice this week, she was kicked off the team and off campus. Her offense: she had attended the homecoming dance--held simultaneously with a drill team competition.

It was her first unexcused absence in four years of competition.

Jennifer's father, Dennis Hampton, is battling the Irvine Unified School District over her ouster.

"It's her last year of high school," Hampton said. "How can they tell her, 'Oh, by the way, you have to skip the homecoming dance.' "

He said he had tried to head off the problem by pointing out the scheduling conflict earlier in the year.

Instead, he said, when she arrived Monday morning, she was dismissed from the team in an embarrassing encounter with the coach. High school officials confiscated her flags and demanded that she leave the campus for the day, her father said.

"They made her a spectacle in front of the drill team," Hampton said.

After the same scheduling conflict happened last year, Hampton said, school officials promised it wouldn't happen again.

Hampton said his daughter would not comment, on advice of his attorney.

Irvine High School Principal Gail Richards said the drill team competitions depend on requiring students to participate.

"She made a decision knowing full well what the consequences were, and so she has been removed from the squad," Richards said.

Jennifer, 17, was the only one of 53 drill team members who attended the homecoming dance.

Irvine High School Band Director Bob Avzaradel could not be reached for comment. The superintendent of Irvine Unified School District, David E. Brown, declined comment.

"Extracurricular activities are supposed to be fun," Hampton said. "It feels like I'm dealing with Caesar."

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