The Juneau School Board has approved a new policy on after-school activities such as sports. It's intended to give parents and students a clearer sense of coaches' expectations, and to give coaches a better idea of what the school board expects.
The policy, approved Tuesday, requires the superintendent to set minimum eligibility requirements for student participation and travel, standards of conduct for students, coaches and advisers, and a way for parents and students to help evaluate coaches and advisers.
Coaches and advisers will still decide who makes a team or activity, but they must have fair and equitable written criteria.
The new policy also requires the superintendent to approve any out-of-state travel or fund-raising for such travel.
And the policy says the health, welfare and academic achievement of participants will be considered in the conduct of activities.
Superintendent Gary Bader said he and Juneau-Douglas High School activities director Sandi Wagner will write regulations to implement the new policy.
In some ways, the new policy merely emphasizes and states in one document what was already scattered in regulations or school policies, which were not uniformly followed. And the coaches' evaluations are expected to be similar to current evaluations of teachers and administrators.
But school board members hope the new policy will provoke clearer regulations and more accountability.
``What really bugs me is when coaches don't agree with the policy and they create their own,'' school board President Stan Ridgeway said Tuesday.
``I'm sick and tired of kids being treated poorly. I'm sick and tired of hearing about retaliation. I don't care what anybody says, it goes on,'' he said.
Bader responded that school board members should direct complaints to coaches and administrators to see if they're accurate. Talking about it at the school board isn't due process for coaches, and it demoralizes staff when people assume the worst, he said.
But if the new policy was intended to create uniformity, it still leaves open a gray area. In requiring the superintendent to set minimum eligibility requirements for participation and travel, such as a particular grade point average, it seems to allow coaches to set higher standards on their own.
Some coaches now make decisions on who should travel with a team based on higher standards than what's in the regulations, Wagner told the board Tuesday.
Wagner, who coaches volleyball and soccer, said coaches need leeway to put academics first. In deciding who travels, she said she sometimes considers whether students are keeping up with their school work or getting grades up to their potential.
But school board member Chuck Cohen said it should be based on athletic performance, and not used as leverage to get better class work from students, as long as they meet the minimum qualifications. The purpose of sports is to win, he said.
The ambiguity will be worked out in the regulations, Ridgeway said in an interview.
The school board also will consider a new policy on how to punish drug and alcohol use, he said. Coaches have complained that the current policy, which requires them to reinstate a student after a suspension, is unfair to other team members because the suspended student misses multiple practices which other team members are required to attend.
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