By Sue Botos
School officials will be considering the possibility of more stringent penalties for student-athletes caught violating the district code of conduct regarding alcohol and drug use.
Athletics Director Mark Wagner told the school board at its April committee of the whole session that after incidents involving underage drinking last year, the current policies have come under scrutiny.
“Our policy is in its ninth year and is behind the times in terms of consequences,” Wagner told the board. He said that a committee had been assembled, consisting of coaches and other concerned individuals, to talk about the issue, and that the group has met four times, providing for some “lively discussion.”
Wagner said that the code proposal applies to high school student-athletes, and that regulations for middle school athletes are still “on the table.”
Under the present code of conduct, a first offense results a student being benched for 20 percent of the season for his or her sport, or attendance at an “eduvention” program, offered by the Rocky River police. This measure can also involve assessment with a certified drug and alcohol counselor.
A second infraction calls for mandatory participation in outside alcohol and drug assessment, plus a 20 percent denial of participation in the athlete’s current sport.
Denial of participation in all nonacademic activities for one year is the consequence for a third violation, and a fourth bars the student from any nonacademic activities for the rest of his or her high school career.
Under the new proposal, parents and students are still offered the choice of sitting out for 20 percent of the season or “eduvention,” for an initial offense. However, for a second violation a half-season suspension is called for, as well as a signed release from an assessment program. Penalties for the third and fourth offenses remain the same.
Some board members expressed concern over the issue of “constructive possession,” or students who may be attending a party but who do not register on a Breathalyzer test, indicating that they had not been drinking. While there is disagreement as to how or if these students should be penalized, Wagner commented, “Participation in a sport is a privilege, not a right,” adding that student-athletes should uphold the code of conduct by not attending events where underage drinking is taking place.
Wagner said that an official proposal will be submitted to the board.