The Board of Education discussed changes to the Code of Conduct for athletics and extra-curricular activities and ultimately voted 4-3 to approve modifications presented at the Aug. 13 meeting.
The new code of conduct for Oswego schools contains several changes from the previous code, namely regarding policies on alcohol and substance abuse.
Board member Brent Lightfoot proposed a modification to the section for violations of alcohol and substance abuse.
He said the previous policy allowed for a student who attended a party where drugs or alcohol was available, but made the right decision to leave when those abuses became known, to be punished anyway.
“Student could still be reprimanded and still punished. And I have an issue with that. I don’t think it’s right; I don’t think it’s a good policy,” said Lightfoot.
Board member Mike Scaramuzzi was in firm disagreement with Lightfoot.
“I don’t stand for it," Scaramuzzi said. "They should suffer consequences, just like they do under the current policy. This new policy would drastically reduce the consequences for such action.”
Scaramuzzi further added that the students should think twice about what kind of party they go to and should be accountable for their actions.
Board President Bill Walsh said the district wasn’t condoning going to parties, but that Lightfoot’s proposal would allow students who did not know about the substances to leave and not be penalized.
Several board members proposed changes, including removing the words “host or” from rule number 5 for participants which stated:
5. Participants will not host or attend a party or have the participant’s parent/guardian or family member host a party at which the following are permitted for minors: illegal consumption of alcohol, use of controlled substances, steroids, or look-alike drugs.
The suggestion was also made to eliminate sections 3 and 3a under the Specific Violations Related to Alcohol, Drugs, and/or Controlled Substances, which stated:
3. A participant who violates the Code by attending a party where illegal consumption of alcohol, use of controlled substances, steroids, or look-alike drugs shall be suspended for one contest or one week whichever is deemed appropriate by school personnel for the sport/activity.
3a. There is a one-time allowance for a participant who violates the Code by attending a party where illegal consumption of alcohol, use of controlled substances, steroids, or look-alike drugs AND who voluntarily admits to a coach/sponsor or athletic director/administrator by the end of the next school day, may have all consequences waived if deemed appropriate by the school administration.
“So now it says a student can attend a party and drink all they want?” questioned board member Dave Behrens.
Scaramuzzi said that Oswego 308 would be the only district that doesn’t address the presence in the consumption of alcohol and other substances.
Lightfoot said there are other districts that do not enforce that policy and don’t investigate parties over the weekend unless a police report was filed.
“If a police report is written you have no option to reduce your sentence,” said Scaramuzzi.
“Why is that the school district’s responsibility?” asked board vice-president Alison Swanson. “Why is that not the parents or police’s responsibility?”
Lightfoot said his point was it was the board’s job to set a good policy.
“I have a problem with the ambiguity of a policy that would allow an administrator the option of his or her choice on how to punish or not punish a student based on various scenarios," he said.
A motion was made to eliminate the sections mentioned previously, which would then allow for students that said they did not partake in alcohol or drugs, or left a party that was doing them, to not be penalized.
The motion passed 4 -3, with board members Scaramuzzi, Behrens and Cullick voting against it.