As many in the New Canaan community may be aware, on Monday, March 7, the Outback Teen Center hosted a high school dance at which six teens, out of approximately 200 attendees were allegedly found to be intoxicated, in clear violation of the long-standing Outback Teen Center rules and policies.

Based upon our investigation, the board of directors found that the Outback staff properly followed all existing procedures and protocols given the circumstances. The event was staffed consistent with similar dances and in light of the actual number of teens in attendance. The Outback offers a higher staff to student ratio at teen dances than most other area teen centers and the staff present at the recent dance undertook their responsibilities quickly and professionally. Before the event, the Outback posted its standard disclosures on Facebook that Breathalyzer equipment would be on hand at the dance and would be used at the staff's discretion based upon any suspicious behavior by attendees prior to entering the facility or during the event. Our staff monitored Facebook activity prior to the event. We also hired two New Canaan Police officers for security duty to aid in monitoring the event and to be on hand should a problem arise. Additionally, all teens had to pass through a series of checkpoints with various staff and police prior to entering the Outback facility, with all backpacks, coats, etc., taken and kept behind the check-in desk.

The Outback's mission, as it has been for the last 10 years, is to offer a safe, drug and alcohol free environment for New Canaan teens to socialize with their friends. Both in light of this incident but also in the continual pursuit of our mission, the Outback Board of Directors has decided to take additional steps. We have created a task force to examine all aspects of this recent incident, the Outback's existing policies and procedures, the adequacy of the Outback's staffing numbers during high school dances, and to recommend policy and operational changes to the Board of Directors in order to ensure that all appropriate preventative steps are being taken and to lessen the chance that similar incidents recur in the future.

The task force will be comprised of Outback Board members and will invite other stakeholders in the New Canaan Community, including executives and leaders from the New Canaan High School, the New Canaan YMCA, the New Canaan Police Department, the New Canaan Town government and Outback Student Board Members.

In addition, the Outback will offer an alcohol awareness and prevention speaker in the upcoming weeks for community awareness.

Lastly, we are working with New Canaan High School administrators and the New Canaan Police Department to ensure that we offer the safest alcohol and drug free environment for our most precious resource, our children.

We pledge to put our best efforts forward to ensure that the Outback remains a safe and drug and alcohol free environment.

We appreciate any feedback/suggestions on this issue. Please send us your comments to outbackteencenter@gmail.com.

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