The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 6, 2008

RSC approves revision to discipline for student athletes

Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Advisory Council member Lisa Pearl gave an overview of changes to next year’s Handbook for Students and Parents when she spoke with the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) on May 27. Only one major change was presented, involving the repercussions of a violation by student athletes. However, after discussion it was agreed that additional changes will be considered for the following edition of the handbook.

The Advisory Council is composed of four teachers, five parents, two students, one member of the school support staff, one member of the community-at-large, and the principal. Council members advise the principal in adopting educational goals for the school, identifying the educational needs of students attending the school, reviewing the annual school budget and formulating a school improvement plan. Council members serve two-year terms and meetings are held once a month.

“There is one change after much discussion,” said Pearl. In the “Chemical Health” sub-section of the “Athletics” section, CCHS policies will change to align more closely with Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) policies and to have more equity of discipline across different sports. Currently, the handbook states, “After due process, if the investigating administrator confirms the violation of the chemical health rule, the athlete will lose athletic eligibility for a minimum of the next 4 consecutive interscholastic contests or four weeks, whichever is longer.” The council has decided to change this to the athlete will lose 25% of the athletic season. Principal Peter Badalament said, “The MIAA revamped [its rules] three years ago after much research.”

In the Handbook offenses and their disciplinary action are divided into seven categories, A through G. Group “A” includes offenses such as attacking a member of the school community, the sale, distribution, use or possession of a controlled substance, the sale, use, distribution or possession of a weapon and the sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages. RSC member Jan McGinn questioned whether using a controlled substance should be in the same category as attacking a teacher. Badalament answered that the council did not discuss that. McGinn also questioned why the use of alcohol was not punished equally as use of a controlled substance. She felt this was inconsistent. Pearl said, “We can definitely review the policy.”

RSC member Jerry Wedge asked, “What steps do you really take?” Badalament replied, “We try to keep suspension within the school with a social worker.” He added that the student often makes reparations and also works with the school detention prevention counselor. When reached after the meeting, CCHS Assistant Principal Alan Weinstein said that most suspensions last only one day and those students usually do not repeat the offense. The school prefers to administer an in-house suspension so the student can spend the day being counseled and can discuss their actions, responsibilities and consequences. Students are also allowed to get school work done.

Pearl said the council had looked at rehabilitating suspended students by getting them involved in volunteer work, but added “we don’t have the resources” to make sure the student volunteers and makes an active contribution.

All at the RSC meeting agreed that the point should be to get the student back on track. The RSC voted to have the Advisory Council look into possibly redefining what offenses are in each category. That will be done in the 2008-2009 school year. ∆

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