Proposed rule tough on drugs

Athletes would be dropped from teams for substance abuse

Posted: Wednesday, September 06, 2000

Student athletes who use tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs would be removed from their team for the rest of the season, under proposed Juneau School District regulations.

The chemical use rules also would exclude a violating student who is in any organized activity, such as the drama club, from school-sponsored activities for 30 days. The penalty could be reduced to 20 days if the student undergoes an intervention plan.

The chemical use rules for student athletes are more severe because they are supposed to be models, said school board member Carolyn Spalding.

At a school board work session last school year, some coaches asked for the change in rules because students excluded for 20 or 30 days couldn't practice anyway. But some parents said students should have more than one chance because being on a team could help them overcome a problem.

School Superintendent Gary Bader said he might present the regulations to the Juneau School Board at the Sept. 19 meeting. The board doesn't formally approve regulations, but Bader said he will consider board member comments.

The regulations flesh out and expand upon activities policies the school board revised last school year. Board members said they wanted to clarify and standardize the rules for students, coaches and advisors.

Bret Russell, a JDHS football player, said the proposed chemical use rule is a good idea.

"They shouldn't be playing if they're doing drugs," he said.

Greta Thibodeau, who is on the cross-country team, said the rule is good "because it will help people have their best performance while they're competing, and it will create a good team atmosphere."

Robin Eleazer, the cheerleaders' coach, approves of the rule, but she has seen both sides of the question in her six years of coaching. One cheerleader who was caught drinking was contrite and came back to the team after 20 days.

"The student was upset about what she was doing and dealing with it was a valuable lesson," Eleazer said.

Another cheerleader drank the day of a performance and didn't return to the team because it was a safety issue, the coach said.

The proposed regulations also allow students to evaluate coaches and advisors with a form, and require coaches and advisors to put in writing "fair and equitable" criteria for participating in an activity. The criteria will include attendance, coachability, skill level, teamwork, citizenship and work ethic.

School board members had heard complaints from parents who said they didn't know what was expected of their children.

The rules also say coaches may not require participation in events outside of the regular season. Some board members were concerned sports had become an expensive, year-round activity, and there were unwritten requirements to make a team, such as going to a summer camp or open gym.

Coaches have said they don't require year-round work, but it's hard to make a team without a high level of conditioning and skill.

Finally, the rules say activities should make every effort to meet their needs in-state. The rules allow travel out of state every other year with prior approval of the superintendent.

School board members were concerned about the time students put into fund-raising for out-of-state trips.

"I think it's a good idea to travel out of state because then they get good competition, because the best competition isn't always in Alaska," said cross-country runner Thibodeau.

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