By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON —
A code of conduct for Mt. Vernon Township High School students participating in extracurricular activities was reviewed by the school’s Discipline Committee on Thursday.
Assistant Principal Joyce Dalton was the facilitator of the meeting, in which public members were invited to participate. Just one freshman parent attended the meeting, in which four administrators were present, along with student representatives Megan Jackson and Jase Lucas, teacher/coach Bill England, and teacher/coach Cortney Denton.
“The purpose of this meeting is to look at our athletic drug and alcohol policy. We will meet once a month to look at changes for next year, and to examine other school policies,” Dalton said in her opening remarks.
Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Doug Creel outlined the discipline procedures in place for alcohol and/or drug offenses. Creel pointed out the policy is in effect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
On a first offense violation, students are suspended from participation for 50 percent of the regularly scheduled contest/activities, and must agree to undergo an assessment by a qualified substance abuse specialist approved by the high school, and submit proof of completion of the approved program. After that proof has been submitted, the student will be suspended from participation for 25 percent of the regularly scheduled contest/activity dates. For football players, for example, that would mean sitting out two games; for baseball, the suspension would last through seven games.
Creel also noted that if the season does not allow the student to successfully complete the suspension, it will carry over into the next school term. Creel also said the policy allows for an overlapping of sports if the suspension can not be carried out during one particularly season.
“I like the policy the way it is,” Creel told Committee members. “The kids are told up front and they are held to a higher standard. I’ve seen it [the policy] softened and people get away with things and the Board toughens it up. It goes in cycles.”
Trish Reeves, who works in the attendance center and has athletes at MVTHS, responded, “It’s tough to be the one to put the hammer down on someone, but as a parent, it’s a fair policy. It’s not a one and done policy. We hold these kids to a higher standard and they need to act accordingly.”
On a second offense, students are suspended from participation for the remainder of his/her high school career, or by agreeing to undergo and completing an assessment by a qualified substance abuse specialist and submit proof of completion of the program, the student will be suspended from all extracurricular activity participation for a calendar year starting at the time of a parent conference.
On a third offense, students will not be allowed to participate in any program for the remainder of his high school career at MVTHS.
“I agree with the policy,” said England. “They’re not going to be able to get away with things in life. They have the choice to choose the right course and not the other stuff.”
Students have to sign a waiver that they understand the alcohol/drug policy prior to participation in extracurricular activities, it was reported.
Jackson, president of the Student Council, said, “I have no problem with this policy. I like the three-step process; it’s exactly what the high school needs. This gets to the point and there is no fine print.”
Lucas agreed, “It’s perfect for the high school. It’s not too harsh at all.”
The school’s policy for possession of all forms of tobacco and tobacco products in suspension from athletic participation for 25 percent of the regular season contest dates for each offense. Suspension do carry over into the next sport season if needed, the policy states.
Some administrators/coaches said they feel like there should be a “code of conduct” in place for each sport and a standard procedure for doling out discipline, if needed. Violations of team policies are now left up to individual coaches, and punishment for team rule violations vary from coach to coach.
Creel said he would conduct a coaches meeting in the near future to discuss that possibility.
No action was taken by Committee. Dalton said tardies and social suspensions would be discussed at the February meeting.