Updated substance abuse contract outlines penalties for extracurricular activities

New substance abuse policy better outlines consequences students face after offenses

Steven Curto, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

The KSHSAA substance abuse policy was revised in December 2018 to specify consequences students in extracurricular and co-curricular activities face if they violated the agreement signed at the beginning of the year. The policy states that these violations consist of being caught using “alcohol, tobacco, nicotine delivery devices and other illegal substances.”

According to Athletic Director Jerald VanRheen, the district changed the wording of the contract to outline the consequences students face both during the season and offseason.

“[The policy] used to be that if you were a basketball player and you violated this policy during the summer, outside of your season or in the fall before your season started, there were no consequences because you were out of season and the old verbiage says that it’s during your season,” VanRheen said. “What we’ve done is we have made this a year round document that includes the summer and it also does not recognize offseason.”

By Elizabeth Joseph

A student’s first offense results in “forfeited eligibility for up to the next two consecutive inter-scholastic event dates or up to two weeks of a competition season in which the student is a participant.” The policy states that a student’s second offense results in ineligibility for up to six weeks of a competition season. The third offense leads to “suspension from participation in extracurricular activities for a minimum of 365 consecutive days.”

Additionally, for all offenses, students are required to have a conference with a school administrator, coach/sponsor and parents, then fulfill additional responsibilities before reinstatement.

Basketball player junior Braeden Wiltse believes the policy is beneficial for many students.

“I think [the policy] is good for athletes because it kind of enforces and helps people make sure that they don’t do bad things, especially during the athletic season,” Wiltse said.

Although students signed the contract, some still disagree with the consequences outlined in the policy, such as sophomore Meg Carey.

“I think that it can be too strict at times, like especially for the band, and I don’t think that it’s fair to hold extracurricular and co-curricular classes to the same standards because co-curricular classes are for a grade while extracurricular classes are not,” Carey said. “Athletes may be benched for two consecutive games while students in co-curricular classes will either fail the class or have to complete an alternate or different assignment to keep their grade.”

Most students previously signed the substance abuse contract on enrollment forms when they agreed to play in an extracurricular activity or participate in a co-curricular activity under KSHSAA.

“Since the policy is new and we have already had the enrollment period, we felt like we needed to get it out to everyone who is either in season or who is in a year round activity because this [policy] is different than what they originally signed,” VanRheen said.

Debate and Forensics teacher Annie Goodson believes the substance abuse policy is extremely beneficial for keeping students responsible for their actions.

By Andrew Tow
The recent enforcement of a substance abuse policy for students who are involved in all extracurricular activities has caused an issue for students who are in cocurricular activities. Since “classes like band do different things than athletic activities,” students might suffer, according to junior Braeden Wiltse.

“I think [the policy] is a really good way of keeping kids accountable. I struggle sometimes with unitative measures that keep kids out of an activity that might be the one thing bringing them to school … but at the same time you can’t be abusing substances and be on my team,  Goodson said.

A student in a co-curricular class who was caught abusing a substance may be given an alternate assignment to ensure that they don’t fail that specific class. It is up to the teachers of those co-curricular classes to decide whether or not they will give that student an alternate assignment.

Due to the length of a Debate or Forensics tournament Goodson said that whatever alternate assignment she gives to one of her students caught abusing a substance would be a substantial one.

“The thing about Debate and Forensic tournaments is that they go on for hours and hours. If you go to a debate tournament you are talking debating Friday evening from about 3-8 p.m, and then you’re debating all day Saturday from 8 a.m till anywhere between 5-7 p.m,”  Goodson said. “A five page paper is not going to cut it, whatever assignment I give [a student] would have to be really big and pretty brutal. Fortunately, I haven’t had to figure out what that assignment would be yet.”

According to the October 2018 Board of Education meeting, a “committee consisting of board members, coaches, parents, and administrators was formed to look at the districts student substance abuse policy for athletics/activities and to create a Student Agreement for extracurricular and co-curricular participants.” The district’s athletic directors had been in discussion about changing the wording of policy since April 2018.

“The district athletic directors at all the buildings have been engaged in conversation, and [the athletic directors] have been in a few meeting dating back to sometime in April of last year,” VanRheen said. “We’ve been trying to gather as much information from other districts and seeing what we wanted to do and accomplish to come up with the very best document possible.”

Junior Avery Altman, who serves on StuCo as class treasurer, believes that the implications outlined in the policy ensure that students abide by the rules.  

“I think that [the policy] is beneficial that students in leadership positions or students who have a roll in this school have consequences for their actions and realize that they’re the people who other students look up to.”


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