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PORTLAND, MAINE -- Three Deering High assistant baseball coaches have been dismissed as part of a Portland School Department investigation into alleged underage drinking by students in the company of adults.Varsity assistants Frank Watson and Chris Grant along with freshman coach, Mike D'Andrea Jr., the son of head coach Mike D'Andrea, have been dismissed from the program. D'Andrea and Watson were paid coaches, while Grant was a volunteer.
The decision was announced Monday by Superintendent Jeanne Whynot-Vickers and Deering Principal Ken Kunin. A school department press release stated the move was made because Whynot-Vickers and Kunin "have lost confidence in the ability of these individuals effectively to supervise and serve as role models for Deering High School students."
The alleged incident took place at a party on June 21 after Deering's victory in the Class A state championship game.
Multiple sources told the Press Herald the party was held at Watson's home in Portland. Asked if the party was at his house, Watson said Monday: "No comment."
Mike D'Andrea, the team's head coach, said he wasn't at the party and had little knowledge of it.
"Because the investigation is ongoing, I have been asked not to comment," he said. "The thought of underage drinking is disappointing -- nor do I condone it."
The Portland Police Department is also conducting its own investigation.
Portland police Lt. Tony Ward said the department plans to submit its findings to the office of Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson.
Possession of alcohol by a minor is a misdemeanor in Maine. Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison.
The school department said further disciplinary action may be taken against any adults or students found to have violated school department policies.
"We want to get the full story," Kunin said. "We started talking to the adults and then the students. We want to give everyone the opportunity to tell their side of the story."
At Deering, a first offense for possession or use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco products is punishable by a five-day suspension from school and a four-week suspension from extracurricular activities.
Kunin said it's important to determine if the consumption of alcohol was a mistake by students or represents a pattern of behavior which would bring a recommendation of counseling. He said students who agree to a substance abuse evaluation can reduce their extracurricular activities suspension to a week.
The senior D'Andrea is coaching the Nova Seafood baseball team -- with Watson as his assistant -- in the American Legion state tournament this week in Augusta. The Nova Seafood team comprises current and former Deering baseball players.
D'Andrea served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2002 high school baseball season for drinking a beer on the team bus while his team was in a restaurant following Deering's third consecutive state title in June of 2001.
In 2001, Deering players and an assistant coach were involved in an alcohol-related incident following a 2001 loss to Bangor in the Class A state basketball championship.
MORNING SENTINAL
 
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