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School Board Votes to Modify Code of Conduct for Athletics and Extra-Curriculars

Modifications change policies regarding substance and alcohol use

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.

oswegoannie August 15, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Janet - if you don't mind answering, I am curious. Did you advise the parents of the kids who were at the friends house of what was going on? My son crossed a line last year and he knows if it happens again, I will contact the parents of each and every other kid he was with to let them know what my son was doing, so they are aware of what their kids were around and may have been up to. My son, of course, thinks I am insane. I wish last year someone had called and let me know what his buddies had been doing. I would have been wiser, sooner.
Kirk Mango August 15, 2012 at 03:25 PM
As a current educator (33+ years), former athlete and coach (17 years), parent of athletes, and one who has seen the gamut of both sides of this issue, I can honestly say that I am torn regarding the "attendance" = "guilt" issue as described in this post. On the one hand, it is true that if enough abstainers where able to attend these illegal functions (and parents, they are illegal), the chances of them influencing the middle group of kids (ones not sure what they will do) does exist. I had this discussion many times with my own kids as athletes when they were in high school. They made a good point, however, due to my own parenting style (which has very strong emphasis on one’s character) their code stipulated that they are guilty if they attend. They, my kids, were well aware that if they broke the code, the one they gave their word that they would abide by, and I found out about it, I would expect them to turn themselves in. If not, I would. However, philosophically, I had a tough time arguing against their point that their attendance could help others, as I would have a tough time arguing the same with commenters here about the same. Yet, those of you who were athletes, are/were coaches and/or teachers (people in the system), or are still young enough to remember all those parties, know, without a doubt that many kids, maybe most, caught would lie about their use of drugs or alcohol during their attendance at the party...continued
Kirk Mango August 15, 2012 at 03:42 PM
This does not bode well for the reasoning for changing the rule at the end of the post "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." It is a sad and tough situation. There are too many that do not completely understand the purpose behind athletic codes, why they need to go beyond just the confines of the school venue to be effective, the role parents play, along with the athletes role. It is a multifaceted issue that needs to be addressed in a multifaceted way. An athletic code alone, no matter how well written, will not have the impact it is intended unless all faucets of the issue are addressed. I have been in the "business" too long and seen too much to be able to say otherwise...continued
Kirk Mango August 15, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Heck, I have seen high school athletes on video tape taking part in illegal activities at parties and when confronted not knowing they were on camera simply lie about their use. And parents who have supported these lies. That in and of itself is a problem. And please keep in mind, losing a percentage of one's season (20% or so) is not the end of the world as a consequence. Some seem to make it out to be. And if one feels it is, then don't make a choice that puts you at risk. The bottom line, I am sorry to say, is that Oswego (like so many others) has not "fixed" the problem with this change. They could, possibly, have just made it worse. Kirk Mango Aurhor: Becoming a True Champion
R D H August 20, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Just curious. Is there a code of conduct for teachers? Found out my son's teacher for this year (4th grade) has a habit of telling the kids to shut up. Getting concerned and school hasn't even started yet.

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