Rules Discussed

ST. MARYS — Members of a local committee approved one set of rules and are researching another after a meeting Tuesday evening.

The members of the St. Marys Board of Education Policy and Program Committee approved policy regarding athletics to be recommended to the full board. Board members questioned an item not in the appeals section of the administrative guidelines they were presented with regarding athletics, and administrators will be undergoing research to find out what other school districts do before St. Marys makes a decision.

During the meeting, Athletic Director Doug Spencer noted the proposed changes.

“I kind of wanted to take the whole school year to address our code of conduct and identify where possible changes needed to be made,” Spencer said. “Early on, we had something occur with the hearings process, so I thought, let’s take the school year to identify what changes need to be made ... Some are just simple changes, some are changes that are coming about because of moving to the trimester schedule for next year and some are changing the actual use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco language that we have there and some of the things I saw throughout the year that I believed needed to be addressed.”

For the policy changes, which the Policy and Program Committee recommended to pass onto the full board, under the “eligibility” section, wording was changed to accommodate the switch to trimesters for grades seven to 12.

The policy also now states that there is no participation in athletic contests by a student during any out-of-school suspension, students are allowed to participate in two co-curricular sport activities during the same season — which was changed but not reflected in the current code of conduct — and all required athletic forms will be submitted to the athletic director.

“It’s what it is, it’s what it has to be, I just wanted to make sure it was black on white,” Spencer noted of the athletic forms policy.

Next, the committee moved on to discuss the guidelines.

Under “Drugs, alcohol and tobacco,” Spencer reflected a reason for the change in the first offense section of “A student athlete who has a suspension imposed for an offense may not join a sport that is already in session for the purpose of serving the penalty prior to the start of next sport’s season.”

“Let’s say Player A is playing a spring sport, that’s the only sport they participate in, and during the winter season they are in violation of the code of conduct and they don’t want to serve the penalty for the spring season, so they quickly try to join a winter sport and pay the penalty in the winter sport.” Spencer said.

Under the second offense section, “from the date of violation of the code of conduct” used to say, “from the date of the denial of the athletic director,” which Spencer said was unclear. The wording was also changed regarding awards during a second offense to, “student-athletes are not eligible to achieve or receive a post season athletic award during the second offense ineligibility period.” The second offense section also included a repeat of the “A student athlete who has a suspension imposed for an offense may not join a sport that is already in session for the purpose of serving the penalty prior to the start of next sport’s season” policy as in the first offense section. Under the third offense section, “The athlete will be declared ineligible to participate in any sport for the remainder of his/her high school years; student-athletes are not eligible to achieve or receive a post-season award during the third offense ineligibility period.”

The last section — the appeals process — held the most changes. Under the information about the Athletic Appeals Board, Spencer requested exceptions to the members of the appeals board — the appeals board would consist of the athletic director, a school administrator and the coach’s representative.”

“The change that we have is right now the appeals board consists of the principal, the assistant principal and one varsity coach that is selected by his or her peers to be the coach’s rep on the appeals board,” Spencer said, noting his proposed board member changes. “There have been instances and there will be instances where the infraction is found by the assistant principal or the principal and they’re also serving on the appeals board, and also the assistant principal may not be involved in anything because the infraction was outside of school and it comes to my attention.”

Spencer included an exceptions section, stating “any member of the board is the disciplinarian having originally imposed the penalty, the coach’s representative is the student-athlete’s coach and/or any member of the board being a family member of the student-athlete, with in the event of an exception, the board member would be replaced with a school administrator at the athletic director’s discretion.” Spencer also had wording changes under the appeals board section. The final appeal must be filed within — changed from 48 hours — two school days of notification of the decision from the Athletic Appeals board.

The question arose, in the event of an appeal, if the student-athlete involved should be suspended from participating in his or her sport, which was a concept board members debated extensively.

“It would help if it’s in writing somehow if and when the suspension starts,” Instruction Director Bill Steinbrunner said.

Board members wanted to research the option and see if/how other school districts address the issue before revising the appeals process section and making a recommendation to the full board.